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Written on 15th February 2022 by Richard Money-Kyrle

The NHS has launched a new ‘Help Us Help You’ campaign to encourage people to recognise early, lesser known signs of heart attack and dial 999.

The campaign is supported by celebrities, including actor, Richard Wilson (One Foot in the Grave). It aims to tackle some common myths about heart attack and remind people that if you or someone close to you is experiencing possible symptoms of heart attack, fast action saves lives. It is never too early to call 999.  

What will the Help Us Help You – Heart Attack campaign do?

The campaign will run from 14th February to 31st March 2022. During this time a new NHS advert will show someone experiencing sweating, uneasiness and chest tightness, which are common early symptoms of a heart attack. The advert will remind viewers that if they experience symptoms of a heart attack they should dial 999.

The new NHS ‘Help Us Help You’ campaign will also help people understand the difference between a heart attack and cardiac arrest, to emphasise the need to act on the earlier, apparently less severe symptoms of heart attack.

During a heart attack the blood supply to the heart becomes blocked. This cuts off the supply of oxygen to the heart and can cause serious damage to the heart muscle. Early signs of heart attack can vary but often include a feeling of squeezing across the chest, sweating and feeling uneasy because something isn’t right.  The person who is experiencing the heart attack is still conscious and breathing. Heart attack can lead to a cardiac arrest.

Cardiac arrest usually happens suddenly, without warning, and causes loss of consciousness. The heart stops and the sufferer has no pulse. Cardiac arrest can cause death within minutes if the person does not receive treatment. 

Heart attack facts

Cardiovascular disease, affecting the heart and blood circulation, causes a quarter of all deaths in the UK. It is the largest cause of premature death in deprived areas. 

More than 80,000 people are admitted to hospital with heart attack in England every year.

More people are surviving heart attacks, but the likelihood of survival increases with early hospital admission. In the 1960s more than 7 out of every 10 heart attacks in the UK were fatal. Today, 7  out of 10 people experiencing heart attack survive, but this increases to 9 out of 10 for those who receive early hospital treatment. There are around 1.1 million heart attack survivors living in England today.

The NHS says symptoms of a heart attack can include:

  • chest pain or a feeling of pressure, heaviness, tightness or squeezing across the chest;
  • pain in other areas of the body, for example pain spreading from the chest to one or both arms, the jaw, neck, back and abdomen;
  • feeling dizzy or lightheaded;
  • sweating;
  • shortness of breath;
  • nausea or vomiting (feeling or being sick);
  • overwhelming anxiety (like a panic attack);
  • coughing or wheezing.

The NHS warns that although chest pain during heart attack is often severe, some people may only feel minor pain, like indigestion. Chest pain is the most common symptom of heart attack for men and women, but women are more likely to experience other symptoms, such as shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, or pain in the back or jaw.

What does research show about people’s awareness of heart attack?

Recent research by the NHS has found that:

  • 70% of people surveyed understood that pain in the chest is a symptom of a heart attack;
  • only 41% knew that sweating was a heart attack symptom;
  • only 27% knew that feeling weak, lightheaded or uneasy are also heart attack symptoms;
  • 62% said that they would dial 999 if they or (a loved one) were experiencing commonly known heart attack symptoms, including squeezing across the chest and feeling uneasy;
  • 45% said they would dial 999 if they or (a loved one) were experiencing lesser-known heart attack symptoms, such as shortness of breath, sweating and feeling light-headed;
  • 75% of those surveyed thought a heart attack was the same as a cardiac arrest.

What does the NHS say about Help Us Help You – Heart Attack campaign?

The new Help Us Help You – Heart Attack campaign aims to prevent thousands of deaths with earlier treatment by helping people recognise the signs of heart attack.

NHS medical director, Professor Stephen Powis said:

Sadly, cardiovascular disease causes a quarter of all deaths across the country and we have identified this as the single biggest area where we can save lives over the next decade. This new NHS campaign will be a vital tool in that lifesaving mission – helping people to recognise when they or someone around them is experiencing a heart attack and when to seek early medical help cannot be underestimated. It can be easy to dismiss early symptoms as they don’t always feel severe, but it is never too early to dial 999 in this circumstance – and the faster you act, the better the chance of a full recovery”.

Professor Nick Linker, consultant cardiologist and NHS national clinical director for heart disease, said:

These survey findings present what is a familiar picture to NHS cardiology colleagues. Often people don’t realise they’re having a heart attack, either because they don’t recognise the early signs, or because they don’t consider them severe enough to trouble the NHS. But make no mistake, a heart attack is a medical emergency, and it’s never too early to call 999 and describe your symptoms”.

NHS England’s press release about the new campaign reminds people that it can be easy to dismiss the early signs of a heart attack but it’s never too early to call 999 and describe your symptoms. The faster you act, the better the chance of a positive outcome.

Claiming compensation after delays in treatment for heart attack or cardiovascular disease

Boyes Turner’s medical negligence solicitors support this important campaign to raise awareness about the importance of emergency treatment for heart attack. Our experienced solicitors have helped countless patients and their families recover compensation and rebuild their lives after death or serious injury from heart attack and cardiac arrest following delays or negligent treatment. We hope that by raising awareness about the importance of urgent and emergency treatment and building public confidence in their right to call 999  and receive NHS treatment, fewer lives will be lost or devastated by cardiovascular disease. 

If you have suffered injury or bereavement as a result of negligent medical treatment, you can talk to one of our solicitors, free and confidentially, to find out more about your right to make a claim by emailing us at