Know Risks Of Heart Attacks, Says Mayor

A leading medical charity is urging men and women in their 30s and 40s to pay more attention to their heart health because they are failing to share in the downward trend of deaths from cardiovascular disease.

The number of lives claimed by diseases of the circulatory system has been in steady decline in Northern Ireland - from 5,272 in 2004 to 4,485 in 2009, the last year for which figures are available. But deaths in the under 55s have remained roughly the same, at around 250.

The vast majority are caused by heart disease and stroke, which have similar risk factors.

The Chief Executive of NI Chest Heart & Stroke, Andrew Dougal said: "Anecdotal evidence suggests that an increasing number of younger men are suffering heart attacks without any previous warning.

"While some die, those who survive are left with lasting physical effects and are at risk of subsequent heart attacks. Men especially need to know the risks because they tend to visit the doctor less often."
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Pat Convery, Lord Mayor of Belfast (pictured here being checked out by Andrew Dougal) is supporting the Have a Heart Week campaign, he said: "It is important to know the risk factors of heart disease, as in many cases there are no symptoms or warning signs. It is vitally important that we do what we can to improve the health of our hearts, and take the advice from the experts in order to minimise the risk of heart attack.

"As a council it is a key priority for us to get a healthier city by getting more people involved in physical activity not just to boost their heart but their health generally. I hope everyone will heed the advice given," he said.

The issue is the subject of the charity's Have a Heart Week, from 14-19 February. Coronary heart disease is caused by a fatty build-up in 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.

Andrew Dougal continued: "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, because you are more at risk of heart attack at an earlier age."


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