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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 November 2006, 12:56 GMT
Drive to cut Asian heart deaths
British Asians
British Asians have a higher heart disease risk
People from South Asia who live in the UK have a much higher risk of dying from heart disease - and are much less likely to ask for help.

British Heart Foundation (BHF) research shows they are up to 50% more likely to die from a heart attack than the rest of the population.

For young people the difference is even bigger - they are three times more likely to be killed by heart problems.

The BHF is releasing a video to raise awareness of the risk.

It's vital that people from South Asian communities in the UK know that if they experience chest pain, it is their body saying call 999
Dr Sandy Gupta
Consultant cardiologist

To be shown on all major South Asian television channels, it shows a son playing cricket with his father who is then struck by chest pains.

After dialling 999, he is successfully treated in hospital and is soon back on the field.

The BHF is also organising a comprehensive grass-roots outreach programme in five cities that have a high South Asian population: London, Bradford, Leicester, Birmingham and Glasgow.

The charity said the high death rate could be reduced if people sought emergency help immediately after experiencing chest pain.

Most wait

British Heart Foundation video still
The film will run on major South Asian television channels

Evidence suggests it takes an average of nearly 90 minutes for people to call 999 after experiencing heart attack symptoms.

The most common reasons for this delay are doubt, embarrassment, not wanting to be a burden and preferring to 'wait and see if it gets better'.

But the BHF is worried there are additional barriers, such as language and cultural reasons, that may put off people from South Asian communities, in particular older people, from calling 999.

The BHF is also organising a comprehensive grass-roots outreach programme in five cities that have a high South Asian population: London, Bradford, Leicester, Birmingham and Glasgow.

HEART ATTACK SYMPTOMS
Chest pain
Pain that spreads from the chest to the left arm or jaw
Breathlessness
Sweating

Dr Sandy Gupta is a consultant cardiologist, and chairman of a BHF committee looking at ethnic issues.

He said: "Most people in the UK are not good at recognising when they are having a heart attack and taking swift action by calling 999, because they too often doubt the seriousness of the situation, or delay because they don't want to make a fuss.

"From my experience, South Asians, particularly older people, can be even less willing to call 999 when they have chest pain or other heart attack symptoms.

"It's vital that people from South Asian communities in the UK know that if they experience chest pain, it is their body saying call 999."

Speedy treatment is vital following a heart attack. Patients treated within one to two hours of the first symptoms are twice as likely to survive as those treated within four to six hours.

Professor Roger Boyle, National Clinical Director for Heart Disease and Stroke, said: "The crucial factor for patient survival is for a person experiencing chest pain not to delay calling for help.

"Given their increased risk of heart disease, it is all the more important this advice is heeded by South Asians living in the UK."


SEE ALSO
Call to tackle Asian heart risk
12 Mar 06 |  Health
Asian people's heart risk studied
17 Aug 05 |  Scotland

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