Ambulance drivers urge reluctant men to dial 999
Apparently 40% of us would not call 999 first if we thought we were having a heart attack. One in five say the pain would need to be 'excruciating' before calling an ambulance.
With heart disease still the UK's biggest killer causing over 100,000 deaths every year, the British Heart Foundation say this 'traditional British reserve' is costing lives.
Professor Peter Weissberg, BHF Medical Director, says: 'These YouGov statistics portray a very worrying, and perhaps very British, reluctance to call 999 even in the most serious of emergencies. Maybe it is our natural reserve and stoicism, but it is costing lives.
'Every second counts when you are having a heart attack, and the quicker you call 999 the greater your chances of survival. Unfortunately too many people waste vital minutes questioning their symptoms — our message is if you're suffering chest pain, call 999 immediately, because doubt kills.'
Evidence shows that:
- people experiencing heart attack symptoms delay an average of 90 minutes before an ambulance is called.
- By the time treatment to restore blood flow to the heart is given, an average of 2 hours and 40 minutes has passed — but in many cases this delay is even longer.
- Those who receive treatment 1-2 hours after the onset of symptoms are TWICE as likely to survive as those who get treatment within 4-6 hours.
The symptoms of a heart attack:
- central chest pain is the most common warning sign of a heart attack, but it does not have to be excruciating to be a serious problem.
- dull chest pain that radiates to the left arm or jaw
- breathlessness and sweating.
Professor Weissberg goes on: 'someone has a heart attack every two minutes in the UK, and about one in three dies before reaching hospital. Many more suffer life-long debilitation because their heart muscle has been permanently damaged. Sadly many of these deaths and heart muscle damage could have been avoided if people had sought help immediately.
'The most common mistake people make is to assume it is indigestion, so anyone experiencing bad indigestion-like symptoms should call for help, particularly if they are not prone to indigestion normally.'
Men shouldn't be worried about calling out the ambulance services unnecessarilly.
The campaign has the support of all ambulance services across the UK. Richard Diment, Chief Executive of the Ambulance Service Association, said: 'People need to know that we want them to call 999 if they are experiencing chest pain. It might or might not be a heart attack - but if you're not sure, let us make that decision.
'We're all in the business of saving lives and we'd rather attend a false alarm than arrive too late.'
Page created on November 20th, 2006
Page updated on December 1st, 2009