Irish Heart Foundation encourages people to act F.A.S.T. during the coronavirus outbreak

Heart and stroke presentations in Irish hospitals have fallen in recent weeks due to public concerns

The Irish Heart Foundation has today expressed its concern that people experiencing symptoms of heart disease and stroke are not presenting at hospital due to concerns about the coronavirus and not wanting to burden the healthcare system.

Dr Angie Brown, Consultant Cardiologist and Medical Director, Irish Heart Foundation, said: "Since the beginning of this outbreak we have been in constant communication with healthcare professionals in cardiac and stroke services around the country.

"In recent weeks there has been a marked reduction in heart disease and stroke presentations in Ireland, which we suspect is related to the coronavirus outbreak. We’ve also heard of cases recently of stroke patients being admitted too late for effective treatment because they were reluctant to go to hospital.

"It’s completely understandable that people are concerned about the coronavirus right now and don’t want to burden the healthcare system, but the unfortunate reality is that people are risking their lives if they ignore symptoms because of these concerns.

"Our healthcare professionals in cardiac and stroke services are working hard to ensure urgent care is still being delivered across the country. Anyone experiencing symptoms of a stroke or heart attack should follow the normal protocol and call an ambulance without delay.

"There are approximately 10,000 stroke-related incidents in Ireland every year. Most people who have a stroke are over 65, but stroke can strike at any age – one in four strokes occur in people aged under 65."

The advice of the Foundation is to act F.A.S.T.

F.A.S.T. stands for: Face: Has their face fallen on one side. Can they smile? Arms: Can they raise both their arms and keep them there? Speech: Is their speech slurred? Time: Time to call 112 or 999 if you see any single one of these signs.

"Time is of the essence in treating stroke – the earlier a person is in hospital, the better their chances are of surviving and avoiding lifelong disability. By acting F.A.S.T. you can increase a stroke survivor’s chances of being able to return to their normal life. The F.A.S.T. acronym was created to help people remember the main warning signs of stroke and get them act immediately by calling 112 or 999."

Heart attack – know the signs

A heart attack is a life-threatening event that happens when the coronary arteries that supply blood to your heart muscle suddenly become blocked. Heart attack symptoms are not the same for everyone. The most common symptoms include: (1 ) Chest pain, (2 ) Upper body pain in the jaw, back, neck or arms, (3 ) Shortness of breath, (4 ) Sweating, (5 ) Nausea, (6 ) Light-headedness, (7 ) Loss of consciousness, (8 )Weakness and (9 ) Tiredness.

The most common symptom of a heart attack is chest pain. This is usually a crushing or tight pain, which may move to your jaw or your arms, particularly on the left side. You may also feel short of breath, sweaty or sick.

Some people may feel light-headed or lose consciousness. You may become anxious or very afraid. Women in particular tend to experience vague, less obvious symptoms, such as nausea, tiredness, shortness of breath, back pain and tightness in the jaw – rather than the more familiar scenario of a crushing pain in the chest that shoots down one arm.

If you are experiencing symptoms of a heart attack, do not delay. Call an ambulance immediately on 112 or 999.


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