August 17, 2011
Push to get men with heart attack fears to dial 999
Westlife's Nicky Byrne launching the new heart attack campaign from the Irish Heart Foundation with (from left) his sister Gillian, his wife Georgina, his mother Yvonne and his brother Adam. Photograph:Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland
FIVE MEN aged under 65 die from heart attacks every week in Ireland, deaths which could be prevented by dialling 999 according to the Irish Heart Foundation.
Launching an awareness campaign yesterday, supported by Westlife’s Nicky Byrne, chief executive officer of the IHF Michael O’Shea said middle-aged men often ignored heart attack symptoms.
“Men don’t want to cause a fuss, it’s a typical Irish male attitude,” Mr O’Shea said. “We felt these cartoons were a unique approach that would appeal to them more than a traditional advertisement.”
The cartoons show how men often convince themselves there is no need to go to hospital, emphasising people should not be embarrassed to call an ambulance when feeling ill.
Also speaking at the launch, the medical director for the IHF Dr Angie Brown said about 84 per cent of people under 65 who have heart attacks are male.
She also pointed out, however, that more women die from heart disease than from breast cancer.
“If you get to hospital within an hour, you have a 50 per cent higher chance of survival,” Dr Brown said, adding that many people delay for days after noticing the first symptoms.
She said this was clearly linked to playing down symptoms and not wishing to make a fuss.
About 6,300 people suffer heart attacks in Ireland annually but only half of these will go to hospital by ambulance, according to the organisation.
Both Dr Brown and Mr O’Shea said possible symptoms included sweating, nausea or light-headedness, not just the more dramatic symptoms people might imagine.
Dr Brown finished by saying: “Don’t waste time on going to the GP or driving yourself to the hospital. If you’re having a heart attack, then don’t die of embarrassment. Dial 999.”
Before the launch, Byrne said he and his family wished to commemorate his father, Nicky Byrne snr, who suffered a fatal heart attack at the age of 60 in 2009.
Byrne (32) said he hoped this campaign would also reach out to people his own age. “People could speak to their parents, tell them to go and have an NCT on their body. You do it for your car every two years, why not for your body?”