Learn how to reduce heart attack deaths

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It’s the second week in January and some of the New Year’s resolutions may already have been broken.

Here’s one that shouldn’t be broken though: let’s all do our bit to reduce heart attack deaths.

St John Ambulance tells us that 92,000 people in the UK suffer heart attacks each year, and a third of those die as a result.

Now, the nation’s leading first aid charity is urgently calling for people to help them reduce heart attack deaths by watching and sharing a six-second film on www.sja.org.uk/4ps

Watching the film will mean more people can spot the signs, and that could make the difference between a life lost and a life saved.

New research from St John Ambulance shows that more than two-thirds (70 per cent) of people in the East Midlands wrongly believe that a heart attack is a cardiac arrest.

In fact, a heart attack happens when the flow of oxygen-rich blood to a section of heart muscle suddenly becomes blocked and the heart can’t get oxygen.

The symptoms of a heart attack are known as the “Four Ps”: Pain (in the chest), Pulse (weak or rapid), Perspiration (or profuse sweating), and Pale skin.

If these are spotted swiftly, and appropriate treatment is given, it need not lead to a potentially fatal cardiac arrest – when the person stops breathing and requires resuscitation.

Being able to recognise the first signs of a heart attack could save lives.

Chris Thornton, regional director of St John Ambulance in the East Midlands, said: “We want to give people the chance to make an achievable – and potentially life saving – New Year’s resolution.

“Help us to reduce heart attack deaths by watching our quick steps on how to spot a heart attack and share it with your friends. We hope it isn’t, but this could be the year you need to use it.”

Some of the signs to look for:

• Persistent central chest pain - often described as vice-like or a heavy crushing pressure

• Pain spreading (radiating) to the jaw, neck and down one or both arms

• Breathlessness

• Discomfort high in the abdomen, similar to indigestion

• Possible collapse without warning

• Ashen skin and blueness at the lips

• Rapid, weak pulse which may be irregular

• Profuse sweating, skin cold to the touch

• Gasping for air (air hunger)

• Nausea and/or vomiting.