In recent weeks, many people with heart and stroke emergencies have delayed seeking medical help or decided to just sit it out and stay at home because of their fear of COVID-19.

This delay in taking action has resulted in worse outcomes, ranging from unnecessary loss of life to people being left with disability, chronic heart conditions and poorer quality of life.

We need to stop this from happening.

If you are experiencing a heart or stroke emergency, this is NOT the time to stay home. When your heart says so, #JustGo.

HEART ATTACK

Typical symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Chest pain, tightness, or discomfort that comes on with physical exertion or emotional distress and is relieved by rest. Sometimes this exertional or emotional chest discomfort can spread to the left arm or jaw area. If a heart attack is severe, these symptoms can persist when you are resting. You may feel dizzy (lightheaded), nauseous, sweaty or short of breath.

These symptoms may not be as obvious if you are female or have diabetes.

Click to learn what a heart attack feels like. 

STROKE

Typical symptoms of a stroke include:

  • Sudden loss of speech, vision, ability to walk or power in your hands or legs
  • No warning signs – sudden loss of ability to do something you normally can do
  • Sudden weakness of the face, arms, or legs
  • Droop on one side of your face
  • Sudden confusion or trouble speaking or understanding others
  • Sudden loss of vision in half the visual field
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, or loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

STROKE

Typical symptoms of a stroke include:

  • Sudden loss of speech, vision, ability to walk or power in your hands or legs
  • No warning signs – sudden loss of ability to do something you normally can do
  • Sudden weakness of the face, arms, or legs
  • Droop on one side of your face
  • Sudden confusion or trouble speaking or understanding others
  • Sudden loss of vision in half the visual field
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, or loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

HEART FAILURE

Typical symptoms of heart failure include:

  • Shortness of breath with exertion that is out of keeping with your normal fitness, usually associated with swelling in the feet and ankles or abdominal bloating and reduced appetite, due to fluid retention. Shortness of breath while lying down in bed that is relieved by sitting up, and weight gain over a short period of time (>2kg over 2 days) are also symptoms.

HEART VALVE DISEASE

Typical symptoms of heart valve disease, especially in those over the age of 65, include:

  • Shortness of breath or dizziness with exertion that is out of keeping with your normal fitness can also be accompanied by symptoms of heart attack or heart failure (as described above).

HEART VALVE DISEASE

Typical symptoms of heart valve disease, especially in those over the age of 65, include:

  • Shortness of breath or dizziness with exertion that is out of keeping with your normal fitness can also be accompanied by symptoms of heart attack or heart failure (as described above).

FAMILIAL HYPERCHOLESTEROLEMIA (FH)

  • All of the above symptoms in a person younger than 55 who has a diagnosis of FH, has a family member diagnosed with FH or has multiple other family members with a history of heart disease or stroke.

For more information on FH, please visit fheurope.org.

Further information and advice:

Please contact Croí’s support service, Heartlink West, Monday to Friday 9:00am – 5:30pm to connect with our specialist team of Nurses, Dietitians, Physios And Exercise Specialists.

Call 091-544310 or email healthteam@croi.ie.

The #JustGo Campaign is an international collaboration between heart patient organisations aimed at saving lives and reducing disability by encouraging those with symptoms of heart or stroke emergency to seek medical help without delay. The campaign aims to strengthen the public message on the importance of taking urgent action when experiencing cardiac or stroke symptoms.

The campaign is an initiative of the Global Heart Hub (of which Croí is a founding member) in partnership with FH Europe, a European patient network whose mission includes the prevention of early cardiovascular disease with a particular focus on familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH) and related conditions. Both organisations have joined forces on this patient-to-patient communications campaign to highlight the importance of seeking medical help for cardiac and stroke emergency during the COVID-19 crisis.

The Global Heart Hub is an alliance of heart patient organisations from across the world united in providing a voice for those affected by heart disease & stroke and advocating for optimal patient outcomes across the care pathway from screening & detection through treatment, recovery, self-care and self-management.

National Clinical Societies (in Ireland, the Irish Cardiac Society) and international organisations such as the World Heart Federation, World Stroke Organisation and the European Society of Cardiology are all united on the important message that ignoring cardiac symptoms or delaying treatment carries the risk of severe complications with long-term negative and potentially life-threatening consequences.

The background to the #JustGo Campaign

One of the unintended consequences of the COVID-19 messaging to ‘Stay at Home’ is that it has resulted in very high levels of fear around visiting a doctor or going to hospital. A recent survey on the impact of COVID-19 by the Global Heart Hub across 19 countries reported that the biggest fear of heart patients is contracting the virus; their second biggest fear is visiting their doctor or going to hospital. These fears, while perfectly understandable, are now the cause of very serious collateral damage. Across the world and here in Ireland, many people experiencing symptoms of heart or stroke emergencies are delaying going to their doctor or hospital. We now know that these delays are resulting in worse outcomes with life-threatening or health deterioration consequences.

Doctors are reporting that those who delay in seeking medical help are in a far worse condition when they finally arrive at hospital and they are often too late to benefit from the life-saving treatments that are normally available to them.

The #JustGo Campaign is endorsed by:

The National
Heart Programme
Ireland

Irish Cardiac Society
European Atherosclerosis Society

Part of a global initiative by the Global Heart Hub in collaboration with FH Europe.

Supported by:

World Heart Foundation

If you want to get involved, see our campaign materials at Global Heart Hub.