NHS England to launch a life-saving heart attack campaign

Heart attack admission figures have returned to pre-pandemic levels prompting the NHS to launch a new programme encouraging people to call 999 when experiencing early symptoms.

At the beginning of this week, NHS England launched a new campaign with an aim to teaching people about the common signs of a heart attack that are often dismissed by individuals.

woman wearing silver-colored ring

The campaign was launched with confidence as recent figures from the NHS display that there were more than 84,000 hospital heart attack admissions in England during 2021/22 – up by more than 7,000 compared to the previous year when fewer people came forward for care during the pandemic.

Against this backdrop, recent research has found around seven in 10 people survive a heart attack increasing to more than nine in 10 for those who reach hospital early to receive treatment.

The new campaign that the NHS are launching from this week, will come in the form of an advert encouraging people to call 999 as soon as they experience symptoms of a heart attack.

These include: 

  • A squeezing sensation spreading across the chest
  • Sweating and a feeling of uneasiness
  • Discomfort felt in the center or left side of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes or repeatedly comes back

‘Cardiovascular disease causes one in four deaths across the country, so it is vital that people are aware of the early signs of a heart attack,’ Professor Nick Linker, cardiologist, and NHS national clinical director for heart disease, said. ‘Every moment that passes during a heart attack increases heart muscle damage and nearly all of the damage takes place within the first few hours, so if you experience symptoms such as a sensation of squeezing or tightness across the chest alongside sweating, nausea, or a sense of unease, please call 999 so you have the best chance of a full recovery.’

In addition, the campaign will also seek to raise awareness of heart attack symptoms amongst women. Despite heart attacks more frequently affecting men, around 30,000 women are admitted to hospital following a heart attack each year in the UK. Women’s risk of a heart attack also increases after the menopause.

Dr Charmaine Griffiths, chief executive at the British Heart Foundation, said: ‘Every minute matters when somebody is having a heart attack, and could be the difference between life and death.

‘Even if the symptoms don’t seem severe, such as a feeling of squeezing or tightness across the chest – call 999 immediately. A heart attack is a medical emergency and immediate action could save your life.’

Image: Giulia Bertelli

More on NHS England:

Coroner warns NHS England of impact of neurology delays and staff shortages

NHS England plans to create thousands more ‘virtual ward beds’


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