BHF urges public to 'get real' over heart attacks

The British Heart Foundation is planning a consumer campaign to make people more aware of the symptoms of a heart attack.

The charity is keen to dispel the myth of the 'soap opera heart attack' – in this Friday's episode of Coronation Street, character Mike Baldwin dies after a dramatic coronary arrest.

'People in the UK are not good at recognising the symptoms of a heart attack,' said BHF press officer Ian Fannon. 'It could come on in the form of gradual pain that people might write off as something else.'

He added: 'Someone doesn't have to be rolling around on the floor
with hands clutched to chest to be having a heart attack.' Last week, coverage of the Coronation Street storyline included double-page spreads in the tabloids. They all showed actor Johnny Briggs collapsed on the floor with his arms over the area of his heart and in obvious pain.

Although the campaign is at the planning stage, BHF confirmed it was likely to involve educational advertising and PR elements. In particular, groups generally less-informed about heart attacks, such as women and ethnic minorities, will be targeted via consumer, national and regional press.

Statistics from the US show that only 20 per cent of heart attack victims visit a hospital within an hour of experiencing symptoms – 41 per cent take two hours.

'We will be conducting research to see what the figures are for the UK, and using that as a news hook,' said Fannon. 'The goal is for people to recognise the symptoms early and get to hospital as soon as possible. If people act quickly, they have a greater chance of survival.'

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