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Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland



One glance at poster almost certainly saved Lisburn man's life

Jim Mulholland distributes leaflets with the British Heart Foundation's Mr. Freddie Hall campaign message to Joyce Taylor in Lisburn.

A LISBURN man has spoken of how one glance at a poster almost certainly saved his life.

As Northern Ireland marked its first 'Chest Pain Awareness Day' Jim Mulholland described how he was struck with a severe bout of this potentially deadly symptom just after getting off a bus following a round of golf.

As he walked away from the bus stop he glanced at a billboard. This revolved to reveal the British Heart Foundation Northern Ireland's poster 'Doubt Kills' which aimed to make people aware of the need to seek urgent medical attention in the event of experiencing chest pain.

"I just glanced at the poster and there was this message telling me that a chest pain was my body saying 'call 999'," he explained. "The timing was absolutely unbelievable, it was like divine intervention. I realised at that point I had no choice. I had to call 999 immediately."

The ambulance arrived within 10 minutes and paramedics told Jim he was having a heart attack. At the hospital he was given clot-busting drugs, and soon after this was administered the pain subsided. Jim went on to need triple bypass surgery

Heart disease causes one in five premature deaths. The condition remains the leading cause of early death in the country with more than 900 people under 75 losing their lives in 2005.

The Awareness Day which was supported by the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service was part of BHF Northern Ireland's ongoing 'Doubt Kills' campaign. This urges people experiencing chest pain or other heart attack symptoms to call 999 immediately.

Judy O Sullivan, Cardiac Nurse at the BHF, said: "These new statistics remind us that coronary heart disease is still the biggest killer in Northern Ireland. But many of these deaths are avoidable if people know how to recognise heart attack symptoms and act quickly.

"Chest Pain Awareness Day is about encouraging people to call 999 immediately if they suspect they are having a heart attack. Doubting your symptoms and delaying action can kill.

"Thousands of people in Northern Ireland can testify to the fact that heart attacks are not always as they are portrayed on TV. Many of those who have died will have had some form of warning which they may not have realised was the beginning of a heart attack. "The pain can be subtle and not always seem immediately serious, so it can be easy to dismiss or ignore."

Backing the BHF campaign, Liam Mclvor, Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, said: "People need to know that we want them to call 999 if they are experiencing chest pain. It might or might not be a heart attack - but if you re not sure, let us make that decision.

"We are backing the BHF Northern Ireland's campaign because we're all in the business of saving lives and we'd rather attend a false alarm than arrive too late."

As part of the awareness day, BHF is re-running its iconic advert showing an image of a man with a belt around his chest and the words 'A chest pain is your body saying call 999'. They are also delivering leaflets to almost 30,000 homes in Northern Ireland.

Ulster Star