HOSPITALS across South Cumbria are encouraging people to call 999 immediately if they have symptoms of a heart attack.

NHS staff are working together to ensure that care and urgent treatment for people with heart problems can safely continue during the coronavirus pandemic.

They have asked people to be aware of the signs.

Common symptoms of a heart attack can include:

• Chest pain – the chest can feel like it’s being pressed or squeezed by a heavy object

• Shortness of breath

• Feeling weak or lightheaded, or both

• An overwhelming feeling of anxiety – similar to having a panic attack.

"People need to call 999 if they have any doubts regarding heart attack symptoms so they can be treated as soon as possible to increase the chances of survival and recovery," said Dr Amanda Doyle OBE, chief officer for Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care System.

"This is particularly important for those with who are at an increased risk such as people with high blood pressure, diabetes, those who smoke or have had heart problems in the past.

“We want to reassure people that the NHS is here for you. It’s really important that people seek medical advice as and when they normally would if they have health concerns. In hospitals, GP surgeries and health centres we are taking strict precautions to ensure both staff and patients remain safe so don’t leave your illness or condition until it is too late.”

Kevin McGee, chief executive of Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “It is vital that anyone experiencing heart attack symptoms dials 999. Paramedics can diagnose a heart attack or a stroke straight away and take people to the right place to receive the best treatment as quickly as possible.

“The NHS is here to help, and it is safe to come into the hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic. If 999 or NHS111 advises you to go to a hospital – please do so.”

Although chest pain is often severe, some people may only experience minor pain, similar to indigestion. In some cases, there may not be any chest pain at all, especially in women, older people and people with diabetes.

If you have any doubts, call 999 as it is vital to treat a heart attack as soon as possible, to increase the chances of survival and recovery.

Find out more about causes, symptoms, treatment and prevention of heart attacks on the website.