Page last updated at 21:40 GMT, Sunday, 10 August 2008 22:40 UK

TV ad 'busts heart attack myth'

Betty McBride from BHF describes what the advert will show

Heart health campaigners have made a two-minute TV advert aimed to show the "Hollywood" version of a heart attack is usually a long way from the reality.

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) advert aired just once - on ITV1 on Sunday evening.

It demonstrated the wide range of symptoms, including pain in the arm or the jaw that can signify an attack.

Betty McBride of the BHF said the charity wanted to increase awareness of when people should call 999.

Every year in the UK almost a quarter of a million people suffer heart attacks, a third of whom die before reaching hospital.

But most people get a false impression of what a heart attack feels and looks like from TV and Hollywood portrayals, where someone suddenly clutches their chest before falling to the floor.

'Call 999'

Ms McBride said: "That is what it's like for a few people. But mostly, there is a wide variety of symptoms such as pain in your arm, or in your jaw. For some women, it might be a heaviness on their chest.

It's not last night's Vindaloo and it's not indigestion, it's not sunstroke - it might be a heart attack
Betty McBride, British Heart Foundation

"What we need people to recognise is that, once the doubt starts to seep into their minds, that something is happening to them that's different to usual.

"It's not last night's Vindaloo and it's not indigestion, it's not sunstroke - it might be a heart attack. With that doubt, they should be ringing 999."

Paul Phillips, chief executive officer of the East Midlands Ambulance Service, said ambulance services across the UK fully support the campaign.

"We'd rather attend a false alarm than arrive too late."

The advert was transmitted in advance of the BHF's Heart Awareness Day on 11 August.


Have you seen the ad and did you think it was effective? Do you think that so-called 'shock advertisements' work? Is there a particular TV campaign that you think has been successful with the message it's trying to put across?

Below are some of the comments you have sent to the BBC.

The man really showed that feeling embarresed about calling 999 could get yourself killed. The advert was powerful in the way it was all done in 1st person and showed that the symptoms are diffent for everyone! This advert could save people's life when they get pain in their jaw or arm and think "I should call 999, even if it's not a heart attack. The doctors would rather I called them than ended up dead"
James, London

I thought the decision to show how a heart attack can present itself was excellent but I did not think that the way it was done was the best way.

We are not stupid, it did not need all the camera tricks to make it effective. The subject itself is dramatic - plain facts would have been enough but a good idea nevertheless.

I always thought that TV is an superb way of reaching as many people as possible in a short time.

Short 30 second commercials get into the public consciousness why can't we use this medium to raise awareness on other important health issues.
Olwyn Marshall, Cardiff Wales

Having seen the advert tonight of which I was unaware of.. was a very much a shock tactic for me because you see my partner ( 58 ) died of a massive heart attack at work last year and I was not there with him when he effectivley died , just some stranger.

Watching that advert has let me know something that before I thought he may have gone through, but always comforted myself that he died quickly and didn't know what was happening to him.

That ad made me realise that he probably did and it broke my heart again to watch it.

What I will add is that 3 weeks before my partner died he presented himself to our doctors with certain symptoms which were treated routinely...maybe its not just the public you need to educate !?
Anita Domleo, Winchester, Hampshire




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