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A fitness coach has told how 999 call handlers dismissed her heart attack as being ‘anxiety’.

Faith Harrison felt a bit ‘strange’ after playing in a hockey match on January 6 – but never considered it might be something to do with her heart.

The 22-year-old, from Little Minsterly, Shropshire, revealed her arm ‘just went numb and tingly’.  

Her chest, meanwhile, became very tight ‘like someone was sitting on it’.

Concerned about her symptoms, she drove to her parent’s house and immediately told her family and partner that ‘something is wrong’. 

Faith Harrison as fitness coach from Little Minsterly, Shropshire, has been left with permanent damage to her heart after her heart attack was dismissed as anxiety

Faith Harrison as fitness coach from Little Minsterly, Shropshire, has been left with permanent damage to her heart after her heart attack was dismissed as anxiety

Her father then called 999 after she began violently vomiting. 

Miss Harrison said: ‘The call handler said it was probably anxiety or a panic attack.

‘By this time, I knew something was seriously wrong.’

Miss Harrison’s partner Sam and her father drove her to A&E at Telford’s Princess Royal Hospital.

Doctors then decided she needed to be taken to the nearest cardiology specialist centre, at the Royal Stoke University Hospital. 

Tests – taken seven hours after her symptoms began – revealed she had suffered a ‘widow-maker’ heart attack. 

Medics said she was lucky to be alive.

The 22-year-old was also diagnosed with a patent foramen ovale (PFO), a small hole between the top two chambers of the heart which usually closes after birth

The 22-year-old was also diagnosed with a patent foramen ovale (PFO), a small hole between the top two chambers of the heart which usually closes after birth

The avid gym goer has been left with permanent damage to her heart.

Miss Harrison is now calling for greater awareness of heart attack symptoms among younger people and NHS staff. 

Recalling the day of her heart attack, she said: ‘After the match, I just didn’t feel like myself. 

‘I didn’t feel sick or ill, just not like me. 

‘I got in my car to drive home and about 30 minutes in, my arm just went numb and tingly, and my chest went very tight like someone was sitting on it.

‘I did wonder if something serious was going on.

‘But I could speak and move so I thought I was ok. I never thought it could be to do with my heart.’

Chest pain and pain that spreads to the arms are tell-tale signs of a heart attack, as is feeling sick, sweaty, light-headed or short of breath. However, it's possible to have a heart attack without experiencing these symptoms

Chest pain and pain that spreads to the arms are tell-tale signs of a heart attack, as is feeling sick, sweaty, light-headed or short of breath. However, it’s possible to have a heart attack without experiencing these symptoms

Miss Harrison, who travelled over an hour to play in the hockey match, decided to drive to her parent’s house because it was closer than her own.  

‘Somehow, I got there, but as soon as I walked in, I said “something is wrong”

‘My parents, my partner Sam, and I all thought my blood sugar was low.

‘But I violently vomited up anything they tried to give me,’ she added. 

Hospital tests revealed a blood clot was blocking one of Miss Harrison’s coronary arteries by 90 per cent. It is one of the major blood pipelines and can prove fatal without urgent treatment.

SYMPTOMS OF A HEART ATTACK

A heart attack is a serious medical emergency and you should call 999 and ask for an ambulance if you suspect you are having one. 

It’s caused by the blood supply to the heart being suddenly blocked, usually by a blood clot.

A lack of blood to the heart may seriously damage the heart muscle and can be life threatening.

Symptoms include:

  • Chest pain– a feeling of pressure, heaviness, tightness or squeezing across your chest
  • Pain in other parts of the body – it can feel as if the pain is spreading from your chest to your arms (usually the left arm, but it can affect both arms), jaw, neck, back and tummy
  • Feeling light-headed or dizzy
  • Sweating
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling sick (nausea) or being sick (vomiting)
  • An overwhelming feeling of anxiety (similar to a panic attack)
  • Coughing or wheezing

The chest pain is often severe, but some people may only experience minor pain, similar to indigestion.

Source: NHS

Told she was lucky to be alive, she was also diagnosed with a patent foramen ovale (PFO), a small hole between the top two chambers of the heart which usually closes after birth. 

In very rare cases, PFO can allow a normally harmless blood clot to reach a coronary artery and create a blockage, leading to a heart attack.

Miss Harrison had an emergency thrombectomy, a procedure to remove a blood clot from an artery. 

But the damage to her heart was so severe that she now has heart failure. 

In the UK there are around 100,000 hospital admissions each year due to heart attacks. That’s one every five minutes, according to the British Heart Foundation. 

Symptoms of a heart attack include chest pain, dizziness, feeling sick and an overwhelming feeling of anxiety, the NHS says. 

A heart attack is serious medical emergency. It happens when there is a sudden loss of blood flow to a part of the heart muscle. Without enough blood and oxygen the heart can be seriously damaged. 

Although the majority of heart attacks are in older people with underlying conditions such as heart disease, young people can also be victims just like Miss Harrison. 

She said: ‘Having the heart attack and being told I have heart failure has been life changing. I had business goals, I had fitness goals, I had life goals. 

‘Now my goals are very different because my physical and mental health has changed so much.’ 

Latest figures show more than 400,000 people were waiting for a heart test, operation, or other heart procedure at the end of January in England – a rise of 75 per cent since February 2020.

It’s estimated that there are tens of thousands more waiting for a GP referral, regular check-up with a specialist, or for aftercare such as cardiac rehabilitation.

Not knowing the symptoms of heart problems can also lead to delays in people seeking urgent medical help for conditions like heart attacks and strokes.

The BHF has said that demand for help from its Heart Helpline has increased by 75 per cent in the past year.

Many people who call are concerned about not being able to get an appointment with a doctor. 

Chloe MacArthur, a senior helpline nurse at the BHF, said: ‘It’s concerning that so many people we speak to are facing stressful and often frightening delays to their time-sensitive heart care. 

Although the majority of heart attacks are in older people with underlying conditions such as heart disease, young people can also be victims just like Miss Harrison

Although the majority of heart attacks are in older people with underlying conditions such as heart disease, young people can also be victims just like Miss Harrison

‘Just last month, someone told us they are facing a 72-week wait for heart surgery, which would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. 

‘We’re also hearing that people are putting off seeking help because they don’t know the symptoms of potentially life-threatening heart and circulatory conditions.’ 

There are 7.6 million people across the UK with a heart or circulatory disease, such as a heart attack, stroke, or heart failure. 

Miss Harrison said: ‘It’s been comforting to know the British Heart Foundation is there for me whenever I need it as a resource of support. 

‘Their leaflets were a lifeline to me in hospital, and I’ve used the Heart Helpline to learn more about cardiac rehabilitation.’ 

Miss Harrison, pictured with her partner Sam, raised £250 from her hospital bed which will help to fund BHF lifesaving research into heart and circulatory conditions

Miss Harrison, pictured with her partner Sam, raised £250 from her hospital bed which will help to fund BHF lifesaving research into heart and circulatory conditions

As a thank you to the BHF, Miss Harrison raised £250 from her hospital bed which will help to fund the charity’s lifesaving research into heart and circulatory conditions. 

She said: ‘What happened to me was rubbish, but I’ve been given a second chance and I want to do something with it. 

‘For me, I want to raise awareness with young people that they’re not invincible and tell them not to take life for granted. 

‘Everyone, even young people, need to learn the symptoms of a heart attack so they don’t delay seeking help. It could be lifesaving. 

‘It’s also vital that healthcare professionals don’t assume that young people can’t have heart attacks. I’m living proof that they do.’

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Post source: Daily mail

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