NHS hospitals across Lancashire and South Cumbria are encouraging local people to be aware of the symptoms of a heart attack and to call 999 immediately. NHS staff are working together to ensure that care and urgent treatment for people with heart problems can safely continue while responding to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
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 – similar to having a panic attack.
Kevin McGee, Chief Executive of Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, said:
“It is vital that anyone experiencing heart attack symptoms dials 999. Paramedics can diagnose a heart attack or a stroke straight away and take people to the right place to receive the best treatment as quickly as possible.
“The NHS is here to help, and it is safe to come into the hospital during the Covid-19 pandemic. If 999 or NHS111 advises you to go to a hospital – please do so.”
Although chest pain is often severe, some people may only experience minor pain, similar to indigestion. In some cases, there may not be any chest pain at all, especially in women, older people, and people with diabetes.
If you have any doubts, call 999 as it is vital to treat a heart attack as soon as possible, to increase the chances of survival and recovery.
Dr Amanda Doyle OBE, Chief Officer for Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care System, said:
“People need to call 999 if they have any doubts regarding heart attack symptoms so they can be treated as soon as possible to increase the chances of survival and recovery. This is particularly important for those with who are at an increased such as people with high blood pressure, diabetes, those who smoke or have had heart problems in the past.
“We want to reassure people that the NHS is here for you. It’s really important that people seek medical advice as and when they normally would if they have health concerns. In hospitals, GP surgeries and health centres we are taking strict precautions to ensure both staff and patients remain safe so don’t leave your illness or condition until it is too late.”
National data shows the number of people attending emergency departments with symptoms of a possible heart attack dropped from an average of around 300 per day at the beginning of March 2020, to around 150 per day recorded by the end of March 2020. (Source: Emergency Department Syndromic Surveillance System Bulletin, Public Health England, 1 April 2020)