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Heart experts use cricket to target Asians

Britain's heart experts are hoping to exploit the passion for cricket to launch a campaign to encourage people from the community not to delay calling emergency help when experiencing chest pain.

india Updated: Dec 05, 2006 10:35 IST

Britain's heart experts are hoping to exploit the passion for cricket among South Asians to launch a campaign to encourage people from the community not to delay calling emergency help when experiencing chest pain.

Research shows that South Asians in Britain have a 40-50 per cent higher death rate from heart disease than the general population. But South Asians are known to be reluctant to seek emergency help for various reasons: doubt, embarrassment, not wanting to be a burden and preferring to 'wait and see if it gets better'.

Apart from these reasons, the BHF is worried that there are additional barriers, such as language and cultural reasons, that may put off those from South Asian communities, particularly older people, from calling 999.

The British Heart Foundation has now hired a specialist ethnic communications agency, Media Reach Advertising, to tailor the 'Doubt Kills' campaign to target Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis living in the UK.

The campaign urges people not to delay calling 999 when experiencing chest pain and includes a TV and radio advert in Hindustani and Bengali language, and print adverts in Bengali, Urdu, Gujarati and Punjabi.

The TV ads—to be shown on all major South Asian channels—feature a father and son playing cricket. The father develops chest pain and, rather than ignoring the pain or calling his wife, calls 999 immediately for help, and lives to make a good recovery.

The BHF is also organising a comprehensive grassroots outreach programme in five cities that have a high South Asian population: London, Bradford, Leicester, Birmingham and Glasgow.

Sandy Gupta, consultant cardiologist and chairman of the BHF's Strategy Committee on Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) in Ethnic Minorities, said: "Most people in the UK are not good at recognising when they are having a heart attack and taking swift action by calling 999, because they too often doubt the seriousness of the situation, or delay because they don't want to make a fuss.

"From my experience, South Asians, particularly older people, can be even less willing to call 999 when they have chest pain or other heart attack symptoms. The really worrying thing about this is that South Asian people are at much higher risk of dying of heart disease than the general population, so are most likely to need this emergency help".

Professor Roger Boyle, National Clinical Director for Heart Disease and Stroke, said: "I wholeheartedly support this campaign to raise awareness of chest pain among South Asian communities."

"Many NHS organisations are leading the world in the way they provide emergency response, and with paramedics trained to administer lifesaving clot-busting drugs. With 76 per cent of patients reached by an ambulance within eight minutes of a call, we can justifiably be proud of the way the NHS provides urgent care."

"The crucial factor for patient survival, however, is for a person experiencing chest pain not to delay calling for help. Given their increased risk of heart disease, it is all the more important this advice is heeded by South Asians living in the UK."

The campaign is being supported by a range of South Asian personalities, including comedian Sanjeev Bhaskar, BBC news presenter Asad Ahmed, actor Saeed Jaffrey, novelist Moni Mohsin and singer Channi Singh.