‘More needs to be done for heart attack sufferers’, says Synderland campaigner

MORE CARE: Michael Roper, of the British Heart Foundation's Sunderland branch.
MORE CARE: Michael Roper, of the British Heart Foundation's Sunderland branch.
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A CAMPAIGNER says more needs to be done to combat deadly heart disease - despite new figures showing that 70 per cent of heart attack victims survive their ordeal.

Statistics from the British Heart Foundation (BHF) show that seven in 10 people don’t die after suffering the attacks, but a study also found that a third of those found their ability to work affected.

More than 40 per cent say they have been left depressed.

Secretary of the BHF’s Sunderland branch, Michael Roper, said today that while the figures are encouraging, much more needs to be done to increase survival rates, particularly for those in the North East.

Michael, a former school caretaker who lives in Pennywell, first suffered from serious heart problems in the 1990s, making him realise he had to take life easier and consider his diet more carefully.

“It’s good to see that survival rates are higher and I think it’s the fact that more people are getting checked for heart disease with their GPs,” said the 64-year-old.

“If it’s something that’s in the family, people are seeing if they’ve got it through genetic testing.

“But I don’t think there’s enough after care once people come out of hospital after a heart attack.

“Sunderland Royal Hospital has an excellent cardiac support nurse, but like everyone else she is rushed off her feet.

“It’s the family who suffer as well.

“I know from experience that I can’t do some of the things I used to do and it gets me narked at times so I take it out on them.”

Michael, a dad of four and granddad of seven, added that he hopes to reinforce the message that having a heart attack need not be the end of leading an active life. He said: “They often say that the first one is the warning and if you don’t take heed that you need to change your lifestyle you’re on a hiding to nothing.

“We go out with the branch and talk to a lot of people about getting the message across, but there’s a long way to go yet.”

The BHF is urging supporters to wear red on Friday, February 6, for this year’s “Wear it. Beat it campaign,” and raise money for the charity.

BHF medical director Peter Weissberg said: “Largely because of BHF’s investment in world-leading research over the last 50 years most people now survive a heart attack.

“But this doesn’t mean the battle is won.

“There is currently no way to reverse the damage caused by a heart attack, meaning hundreds of thousands of people are living with the devastating and often deadly effects of heart failure.”

To find out more about the work of the BHF’s Sunderland branch, call 534 2767.