Heart attack victims often sit for hours or even days without realising what’s happening to them, doctors have warned.
Hundreds of patients suffering a heart attack attend Blackpool Victoria Hospital every year, and the stereotype of somebody turning up at A&E clutching their chest in agony is wide of the mark, experts say.
Cardiac specialist Dr Jonas Eichhöfer, who is originally from Germany and now lives in Lytham, said: “Changing people’s perceptions of what a heart attack is could save a lot of lives.”
Alongside his colleagues Dr Ahmed Farag and Dr Ranjit More, he is using Heart Month, which runs until the end of February, to hammer home the message the main symptoms to look out for are indigestion, sweating, feeling clammy, chest pressure, discomfort, arm ache, numbness, breathlessness and nausea, and not, as commonly thought, chest pain.
Dr Eichhöfer said: “Very small changes to what patients and staff think could make a big difference.
“We want to get across that it’s OK to ask for help. We’re trying to turn patients into life-savers.”
Dr Farag, who trained at Victoria Hospital but now works in Manchester, added: “The problem is that some people sit on their symptoms for hours, sometimes days, without recognising they are having a heart attack.
“This can put them and their hearts at serious risk. The quicker the patients recognise their symptoms and get in touch with the medical services, the quicker they can get access to the appropriate medical treatment which sometimes can be life-saving.”
Heart attacks are usually caused by a blood clot blocking an already narrowed artery, Dr Eichhöfer said.
The narrowing happens over time due to a fatty substances stored in the wall of the arteries.
“Although more patients with heart attacks are 40 and older, we do occasionally see patients in their 30s.
“It’s down to genetics, family history, and factors such as smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.”
He continued: “Heart attacks can kill you or leave you with lasting damage. You must act fast as every minute counts.”
Meanwhile,heart patients will see a reduction in waiting times for certain cardiac tests thanks to a new piece of equipment at the Lancashire Cardiac Centre.
The centre, which is based at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, now boasts a brand new portable ultrasound machine which will measure the electronic activity of a patient’s heart.
It will specifically be used by doctors as part of a study of the electric impulses which travel through the cardiac tissue, known as electrophysiology (EP)
It has been funded by the Blue Skies Hospital Fund.