Watford MP Dean Russell is urging for greater awareness of heart attack symptoms after he told the House of Commons about his own experience of having a heart attack in August last year.
At Prime Minister’s Questions today, the Conservative MP praised the swift and effective treatment from the NHS including East of England Ambulance Service, Watford General Hospital and Harefield hospital, and hailed information and support provided by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) after his heart attack.
The Conservative MP, 47, experienced heart attack symptoms last year after he arrived home following a meeting. He recognised the symptoms following his work on campaigns with BHF fifteen years ago in his earlier career in marketing and communications. Russell felt numbness in his left arm coupled with pain in his chest and upper back, and called 111 for advice who swiftly raised the alarm sending an ambulance immediately. Russell was initially taken to Watford General Hospital and then to Harefield Hospital in Uxbridge where he had a stent fitted to open up his blocked coronary artery following his heart attack.
Russell praised the life-saving treatment and care he received from doctors and nurses throughout including the post-care from the cardiac rehabilitation teams, and also paid tribute to the BHF’s health information and advice, which he described as ‘invaluable’ as he recovered from his heart attack. Russell acknowledged the swift response and aftercare meant he was able to continue working whilst he recovered.
Most heart attacks are caused by coronary heart disease (CHD). CHD causes your coronary arteries to become narrowed by a gradual build-up of fatty deposits called atheroma. If a piece of atheroma breaks off, a blood clot forms around this to try and repair the damage to the artery wall. This clot can block your coronary artery, causing heart muscle to be starved of blood and oxygen.
In the UK there are as many as 100,000 admissions each year for heart attacks – which equates to one every five minutes. It is estimated that there are around 1.4 million people alive in the UK today who have survived a heart attack.
Common symptoms of a heart attack include:
- pain or discomfort in the centre of your chest that happens suddenly and doesn't go away
- pain that spreads to your left or right arm, or to your neck, jaw, back or stomach. For some people the pain or tightness is severe, while for others it’s uncomfortable. It may feel like heaviness, or a burning pain similar to indigestion
- feeling sick, sweaty, light-headed or short of breath.
Ring 999 if you are experiencing any of these symptoms as a heart attack is a medical emergency
Dean Russell, MP said “I would like to put on record my sincerest thanks to the East of England Ambulance Service, the team at Watford General Hospital and Harefield Hospital, and the Cardiac Rehabilitation Team for their swift action, compassion and dedicated care in my time of need.
“At the age of only 47, a heart attack was never something I expected to happen to me, but proved to be a stark reminder that heart disease can affect anyone.
“However, the work of BHF proved invaluable in spotting the symptoms early which potentially saved my life and ensured a swift and full recovery. I am very grateful to my team who have been incredibly supportive, and ensured we continued to deliver for constituents across Watford; and naturally, my family who have been with me every step of the way.
“By sharing my personal story, I hope to provide reassurance to anyone who may have concerns about their health that there is a wealth of knowledge and support around lifestyle choices, exercise programmes, symptom spotting, and use of technology to monitor recovery. My experience was a reminder that prevention is better than a cure and I encourage everyone to brief themselves on the lifesaving information provided by BHF.”
Dr Charmaine Griffiths, Chief Executive of the British Heart Foundation said “I thank Dean for so openly sharing his heart attack experience to help other people spot the signs before it's too late. It was remarkable that it was Dean's involvement in a British Heart Foundation campaign that helped him recognise the signs of his heart attack early. Knowing what we all need to watch out for can be the difference between life and death.
“I am also incredibly proud to hear that our BHF information and advice helped Dean in his recovery. After a heart attack it is completely normal to have questions and our team help millions of people every year. We are here to support everyone with a heart question, no matter how big or small.”
The BHF’s information and support services can give you help and guidance on any heart question that bothers you, no matter how big or small. To find out more, search ‘BHF questions’ or call one of our cardiac nurses on 0808 802 1234. You can visit their website at www.bhf.org.uk. The BHF Heart Helpline is open weekdays from 9am to 5pm, excluding bank holidays.