Heart disease is a major cause of death in Wales, heart attacks are responsible for causing most of these deaths. A heart attack, also known as myocardial infarction (MI), is when part of the heart muscle dies because it has been starved of oxygen. Quickly relieving the symptoms of a heart attack using a ‘clot busting drug’ has been proven to signifigantly reduce the number of people who die from a heart attack. The National Service Framework in Wales sets the standard that people suffering from heart attack should receive thrombolytic therapy (the clot busting drug) within 60 minutes of calling for professional help.
The Welsh Ambulance Service want to educate and empower people across Wales about heart disease and how to recognise the signs and symptoms of a heart attack. It is vital for the public to recognise these signs in order for us to have the best possible chance to reach the patient and deliver the vital clot busting drug within 60 minutes. The sooner the treatment is received, the more effective it will be and the greater the chance of survival.
If you think you, or someone you know is having a heart attack, dial 999 for an emergency ambulance immediately.
Knowing the symptoms
The common symptoms of a heart attack are:
· Crushing central chest pain
· Pain spreading to the arms, neck or jaw
· Feeling sick as well as having central chest pain
· Feeling sweaty as well as having central chest pain
· Feeling short of breath as well as having central chest pain
Other less common symptoms are:
· A dull pain, ache, or 'heavy' feeling in the chest
· A mild discomfort in the chest that makes you feel generally unwell
· The pain in the chest can spread to the back or stomach
· A chest pain that feels like a bad episode of indigestion
· Feeling a light-headed or dizzy as well as having chest pain
The pain can last anything from a few minutes to several hours. Moving around, changing your position or resting will not stop, or ease the pain. The pain may be constant or it may come and go.
Remember not everone will have the same symptoms, if you or someone you know experience any of these symptoms, get medical help. Do not wait.
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Useful contacts & links
NHS Direct Wales
Access to health information ensures the promotion of good health and wellbeing and allows people to play an active part in managing their own health. The following links are to articles within the NHS Direct Wales Health Encyclopaedia.
Heart Attack (Myocardial Infraction)
Coronary heart disease
Blood pressure (high)
Health, Wellbeing & Support Services
Details of local groups and national organisations who offer a range of health, wellbeing and support services can by found by searching the NHS Direct Wales directory using the link below. Enter your town or postcode and search with Heart as a topic to see what's in your area.
Health, Wellbeing & Support Search
National Service Framework - Cardiac Disease
National Service Frameworks were introuced to set out standards to improve the consistency of care and services across Wales. The link below is to the Cardiac Disease NSF which sets standards for adult services, these standards provide the basis for planning and developing services for prevention, assessment, treatment and rehabilitation.
Interim National Service Framework for Cardiac Disease - September 2008
British Heart Foundation
The British Heart Foundation is Britain’s leading charity fighting heart and circulatory disease – the UK’s biggest killer. The BHF funds research, education and life-saving equipment and helps heart patients return to a full and active way of life. Their website is full of useful information about keeping your heart healthy and living with a heart condition, to visit the website follow this link http://www.bhf.org.uk/default.aspx.
Watch your own heart attack
Watch Your Own Heart Attack is an unforgettable, two minute film produced by the British Heart Foundation which enables you to experience what it's like to have a heart attack first hand. Take the time to watch it then you'll be prepared if and when it happens for real.
Watch your own heart attack - standard version
Watch your own heart attack - signed version in BSL
The British Heart Foundation offers a helpline for information and support on anything to do with the heart. The helpline number is 08450 70 80 70 and is available Monday to Friday from to (calls are charged at a local rate).
Heartstart UK Scheme
Heartstart UK is an initiative co-ordinated by the British Heart Foundation to teach members of the public what to do in a life-threatening emergency; simple skills to save lives.
Courses are aimed at the public and anyone from the age of ten can attend and learn the complete range of Emergency Life Support skills. Emergency Life Support is the set of actions needed to keep someone alive in an emergency until professional help arrives. This includes dealing with conscious and unconscious casualties, suspected heart attacks, choking and serious bleeding.
For more information about Heartstart UK, to find out if there is a scheme in your area or if you are thinking of setting up a scheme, please click here.