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Study shows men are ignoring cardiac arrest warning signs

Giving chest compressions

A new study has shown that male cardiac arrest casualties often ignore the ‘first aid’ indicator symptoms.

According to research presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions meeting in Dallas, Texas, out of 567 middle-aged men, over half of them showed warning signs that went unnoticed in the month before their cardiac arrest.

If people are able to identify warning signs in others, or intervene when a cardiac arrest occurs, many deaths could be prevented. 

While half of an estimated 60,000 cardiac arrest casualties are treated by the emergency services, often help arrives too late – less than 12% people in the UK who experience cardiac arrests out-of-hospital survive.

Know the symptoms

Alan Weir, Head of Clinical Services at St John Ambulance, said: 'This study supports the belief that men delay going to the doctor, even when it's something as serious as this. Sadly my own grandfather ignored the warning signs and didn't survive cardiac arrest. 

'We urge everyone to learn basic first aid, including what symptoms to look for, as it could be the difference between life and death.’

Retrospectively, the men studied said they saw many warning signs, with 56% experiencing chest pain, 13% having shortness of breath, and 4% feeling dizzy, faint or having heart palpitations.

Weir advises that if someone is displaying warning signs or symptoms of cardiac arrest – including chest pain, spreading down the arms, breathlessness, nausea or ashen skin – they should be sat down with their knees bent, supported and reassured, while 999 is called.

St John Ambulance offers many resources to train people with first aid skills to save lives, including training courses and a free first aid app.