Healthier lifestyles needed

PEOPLE living in East Anglia need to lead much healthier lifestyles in a bid to cut down deaths from heart disease, according to health chiefs.And there are also concerns about the length of time it is taking to get patients into accident and emergency departments for lifesaving treatment.

PEOPLE living in East Anglia need to lead much healthier lifestyles in a bid to cut down deaths from heart disease, according to health chiefs.

And there are also concerns about the length of time it is taking to get patients into accident and emergency departments for lifesaving treatment.

While paramedics are reaching 75 per cent of emergency patients within the eight minute target time, it is still taking too long to get them to hospital to be given clot busting treatment.

East Anglian Ambulance Trust has recently trained up its paramedics to be able to give ECG's to detect whether the patient is having a heart attack and also to be able to give the clot busting treatment on the way to hospital.

But the region is still only giving 31 per cent of patients the treatment in the "golden hour" period compared to a national average of 46 per cent.

Tony Jewell, the Clinical Director of the Strategic Health Authority said:

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"We still have a long way to go to improve the speed at which these drugs are given.

'But to some extent our region suffers from being a rural area. Its geography restricts our ability to respond quickly to emergency calls. Forty per cent of our population lives more than 15 minutes away from an accident and emergency department - which is quite significant."

Mr Jewell said it was important to use the time when the paramedics are taking patients to hospital to their advantage to overcome the geographical problems.

But the SHA is also concentrating on preventing heart attacks before they start and although tough Government targets are being reached Mr Jewell admitted there is still a long way to go.

Mr Jewell said: "Coronary heart disease is a huge threat to health.

"Over the last couple of years, the NHS in our region has made significant progress in implementing the national service framework for coronary heart disease, a set of clinical standards aimed at improving the treatment and prevention of the disease.

"But we need to do much, much more to prevent the onset of heart disease in the first place. We need to convince people to lead healthier lifestyles, to stop smoking, do more exercise and eat more fruit and vegetables."

Coronary Heart Disease, which is caused by smoking, poor diet and lack of physical exercise, is the narrowing of the arteries which supply blood to the heart. Without treatment the disease can lead to angina or a heart attack.

The SHA has already made inroads into beating the disease by helping people to give up smoking, prescribing tablets to prevent heart attacks following the first one as well as setting up rapid access chest pains in all hospitals.

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