A recently published Constituency Profile for the East Londonderry has shown that the average annual death rate for circulatory illnesses, between 2008 and 2012, was 346 per 100,000 people.
Fidelma Carter, Public Health Director for local health charity Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke says that the figures for the Coleraine area shows that ‘there is good news and bad news regarding heart disease.’
She explains: “The good news is that the number of people on the Coronary Heart Disease Register - people living with a heart condition, did not increase, remaining stable at 2,602.
“The bad news is that the death rate from heart disease increased by a worrying 9% from 2011 to 2014.
“As a charity, our vision is a Northern Ireland free of chest heart and stroke illnesses.
“Despite the death rate decreasing, we still want to ensure everyone is aware of the symptoms of a heart attack, as time is of the essence to give the person the best chance of survival possible. There are 12 heart attacks in Northern Ireland every day with three people sadly dying.”
Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke is warning that fast action is crucial and has launched its STOP campaign in an effort to make people aware of the symptoms of a heart attack and save lives.
STOP is an acronym for:
S - Something’s not right – symptoms can start slowly
T - Tightness or pain in the chest, pain in the arm, neck or jaw
O - Other symptoms such as shortness of breath, nausea or sweating
P - Phone 999 immediately – the ambulance crew will do an ECG.
Fidelma continued, “Of course, prevention is better than a cure so it is also very important to understand what we can do to reduce our chances of having a heart attack in the first case.
“There are some factors that you can’t control which mean you have a higher risk of heart disease – your age and whether you have a family history of heart disease, high blood pressure or high cholesterol are some of the most important ones to think about.
“However, there are also some things over which you have more control - whether or not you smoke, your weight, the amount of physical activity you do, your diet, how much alcohol you drink, stress and how much sleep you get.”
You can get more information about heart disease and how to prevent it on the charity’s website: www.nichs.org.uk/heart.