Heart disease levels locally seen as ‘deeply worrying’

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Local councillor Glenn Barr has described as ‘deeply worrying’ a recently published report that revealed more people are likely to die of circulatory illnesses in Upper Bann than of cancer.

The Constituency Profile for the Upper Bann area has shown that the average annual death rate for circulatory illnesses between 2008 and 2012, was 346 per 100,000 people.

Mr Barr said it was disappointing to see statistics such as this.

“Upper Bann has a high average and that is worrying not only for the area but for Northern Ireland as a whole,” he said. “What needs to happen is we need to look at a multi agency approach and long term strategies in tackling this problem head on.

“Health and Education agencies need to work together to find solutions. The problem is that if something is done now the affects will not be felt straight away. It will be about 25 years before any results are seen.”

He said he would like to see children taking one hour compulsory physical activity every day from the age of five.

“If children are at school now they might get an hour of physical activity a week,” he said. “By the time they get ready for their class, you could be looking realistically at just 35 minutes of physical activity, per week.

“It is not only physical activity that needs to be addressed, if children are taught how to eat healthily and eat properly, that is just as important as physical activity.

“What is needed is for children to have one hours activity a day every day from P1 to fifth year. That would mean 13 years of their life, five hours a week of physical activity. If they are getting physical activity now, they will reap the benefits later in life. What we want to see are stronger hearts on those peoople in their 30’s or 40’s.

“Certain subjects are part of the syllabus so why can’t five hours a week of physical activity to avoid strokes and heart defects.

“I have written on this very subject to many newspapers and would be willing to speak to anyone on the matter.”

Fidelma Carter, Public Health Director for local health charity Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke said: “The Constituency Profiles outline the things which are of concern in the areas in which we live – health, education, unemployment, crime and road traffic accidents. It is good to see statistics on circulatory deaths highlighted in this way, but it is disappointing that they are higher than deaths from cancer or respiratory illnesses.

“As a charity, our vision is a Northern Ireland free of chest heart and stroke illnesses. Despite the death rate decreasing, we still want to ensure everyone is aware of the symptoms of a heart attack, as time is of the essence to give the person the best chance of survival possible. There are 12 heart attacks in Northern Ireland every day with three people sadly dying.”

Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke is warning that fast action is crucial and has launched its STOP campaign in an effort to make people aware of the symptoms of a heart attack and save lives.

STOP is an acronym for: S - Something’s not right – symptoms can start slowly T - Tightness or pain in the chest, pain in the arm, neck or jaw O - Other symptoms such as shortness of breath, nausea or sweating P - Phone 999 immediately – the ambulance crew will do an ECG.

For more information www.nichs.org.uk/heart.