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NHS urges the public to know the symptoms of heart attacks and to get urgent help if they experience them

With the number of people in hospital with coronavirus now less than half at the peak, NHS leaders last week set out guidance to help hospitals bring back even more non-urgent services safely, as well as reducing the risk for those needing urgent services like A&E.

After a steep drop in people coming to hospital emergency departments with heart problems, the NHS’ Help Us Help You campaign is now urging the public to know the symptoms of heart attacks and to get help if they experience them.

The common symptoms of a heart attack can include:

  • chest pain – the chest can feel like it's being pressed or squeezed by a heavy object, and pain can radiate from the chest to the jaw, neck, arms and back
  • shortness of breath
  • feeling weak or lightheaded, or both
  • an overwhelming feeling of anxiety

Dr. Raj Thakkar, Long Term Condition and Cardio Vascular Lead for Thames Valley Strategic Clinical Network - NHS England and Improvement said; "Since the Covid-19 crisis we have noticed a significant number of patients staying at home, when they should be calling 999. If you notice chest pain, leading up to your jaw, neck arms and back or shortness of breath you must call 999 straight away. this could save your life"

South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, (SECAmb), Medical Director, Dr Fionna Moore, said: “It’s vital that no one ignores the signs of a heart attack which can include chest pain, shortness of breath or feeling sick or sweaty.

“We are ready to respond to everyone who needs us and the sooner we see someone suffering from a potential heart attack the greater their chance of beneficial treatment and survival.

“In recent weeks we have seen examples of people delaying calling 999 as they don’t want to put the service under additional pressure or perhaps want to avoid hospital.

“This is extremely dangerous and people need to remember that the risks of suffering a heart attack and not getting the necessary treatment are greater than the perceived risks of catching COVID-19.”

Mark Ainsworth, Director of Operations (Urgent & Emergency Care) at South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS), said: “Whilst the symptoms of a heart attack can vary from person to person, if you – or someone you’re with – is suffering from chest pain, pain travelling from your chest to other parts of your body, or shortness of breath or dizziness, then do call 999. This could be an indication of a heart attack which, if not treated quickly, can soon become life-threatening. A heart attack damages the heart’s muscle so the longer it goes on for, the more likely it is you will have done permanent damage that will affect the quality of life you can enjoy should you recover.”

Frimley Health and Care