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Half of heart attack patients delay seeking medical help

Co Down man William Newell, pictured with his wife Amanda, suffered a heart attack in October 2015

HALF of heart attack victims across the north delay seeking medical help for more than an hour, putting their life and future recovery in danger, a charity has warned.

A survey of heart attack survivors shows more than 80 per cent initially failed to realise they may be having a heart attack with one in three mistaking their symptoms for indigestion.

Figures from the British Heart Foundation (BHF) show 50 per cent of people suffering a heart attack may be putting their life and future recovery in danger by delaying seeking medical help for more than an hour.

Only one in four heart attack survivors surveyed managed to get treatment within this time-frame.

With someone suffering a heart attack approximately every 100 minutes in Northern Ireland, the heart charity is urging people to be more aware of signs of a heart attack.

Dr David Grieve, BHF NI scientist at Queen’s University Belfast, said it was "extremely alarming" that the majority of people suffering heart attacks delay getting medical help.

"Every second counts when someone has a heart attack. The sooner people recognise their symptoms and call 999, the better their chance of recovery," he said.

"My own research is focused on heart failure, the most common cause of which is damage to the heart muscle after a heart attack.

"The quicker you get medical help after a heart attack the greater chance you have of making a full recovery."

William Newell (48) from Kilkeel, Co Down, suffered a heart attack in 2015.

"I always imagined the symptoms of a heart attack were severe pain. I only felt like someone was leaning on my chest and a slight numbness down my left arm," he said.

"Lucky for me, my wife Amanda, who is a care worker and suspected what it was, dialled 999. I myself would probably have lay there and hoped it would have gone away.

"When the paramedic arrived after about 20 minutes, I was feeling really uncomfortable but still no real pain."

Mr Newell was rushed to hospital and had seven stents put in his heart.

"To be honest I knew the dangers but thought 'it won't happen to me' prior to taking ill I never felt any chest pain or breathlessness," he said.

"I was lucky, had a very resourceful wife who saved my life and gave me a second chance, many don't get that."

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