PEOPLE are ignoring the early warning signs of a heart attack, research shows.
Around two-thirds of people would put their pain down to indigestion if they experience symptoms of a heart attack.
But more than half of them would advise anyone else with the same symptoms to seek medical intervention.
Peter Bower, chairman of support group Huddersfield Heartline, says people need to be given more advice about heart conditions.
He added: “It is a lot easier to try and persuade someone else to go to the doctor than do it themselves.
“People often just say they have a bit of indigestion and put it down to that, not realising they might have had a heart attack.”
The survey by the British Heart Foundation shows that many people take heart attack symptoms more seriously in others than themselves.
Almost half of people (47%) would tell their friends to call 999 if they had unusual chest pain, which is the most common symptom of a heart attack.
But a staggering two-thirds of people (65%) would risk their own health by not calling for an ambulance if they had the same problems.
About one in six people (16%) would also drive their relatives or friends to hospital rather than call an ambulance, wasting valuable time.
With about 250,000 people having heart attacks every year a third of people die before reaching hospital, often because they don’t seek medical help in time.
The main reasons people put off calling 999 include not wanting to waste the time of emergency services (57%), doubting their symptoms are serious (48%), fear of embarrassment (38%) and preferring to wait and see if it gets better (32%).
The BHF says it is crucial that people recognise the symptoms and call 999 if experiencing them.
Prof Peter Weissberg, BHF medical director, says: “This survey shows that people still do not understand why it is so important to call 999 at the very first sign of a possible heart attack.
“Every second counts when you are having a heart attack. Calling the emergency services immediately means you are much more likely to survive.”
Mr Bower had a heart attack in 1999, when he was 56.
He thought it was indigestion until his eldest daughter, a doctor, diagnosed a heart attack and had him rushed to hospital.
He said: “People should be made more aware of what to do in case of a heart attack.
“Everybody knows what they should do for a healthier life; exercise, stop smoking, eat healthier. And we all know we should have less stress.
“But unfortunately people don’t seem to accept it until they have a heart problem.
“Hopefully, for the majority of them they see it as a wake-up call.
“But people need to know that they cannot take the magic pill and continue as they did.”
Huddersfield Heartline was formed in 1990 for coronary patients to share experiences.
It holds a monthly meeting and regular physical activities, as well as a ‘buddy service’ for people wanting to talk about the condition.
New members are welcome. For more details visit www.huddersfieldheartline.co.uk