HAVE-a Heart Week – centred on St Valentine’s Day – focuses on saving the lives of people who could be at risk of sudden death without any warning signs.
The annual fundraising and awareness week, organised by NI Chest Heart and Stroke, aims to tackle the growing incidence of sudden death in people – usually men – in their 40’s and 50’s despite having no symptoms of illness.
Down District Council Chairman, Councillor Eamonn ONeill, who is supporting the campaign said, “Unfortunately it seems that where the heart is concerned, there are no second chances. Given that in many cases there are no symptoms or warning signs, it’s vitally important that we do what we can now to improve the health of our hearts, and take the advice of experts in order to minimise the risk of heart attack.”
The most common reason for people to die suddenly from cardiac arrest is coronary heart disease, characterised by a fatty build-up on the walls of the arteries. In many people this causes angina, or chest pain, allowing them to seek treatment. But in some it remains undiagnosed because there are no physical symptoms.
The charity’s Director of Care, Jillian Patchett, said, ”In someone with undiagnosed coronary artery disease, all it takes is something like running up the stairs or other strenuous activity to put a huge strain on the heart.
“That’s why the aim of this year’s campaign is to alert people to the risk factors – smoking, high cholesterol, obesity, elevated blood pressure, diabetes, physical inactivity and family history.
“If you have one or more of them, it’s important to seek advice, particularly if you are a man. Men are more at risk of heart attack at an earlier age,” she added.