According to a survey by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), 40% of Brits would not make 999 their first call if they suspected they were having a heart attack, and another 64%, say they would call someone other than 999 first if they were experiencing the main symptom of a heart attack, chest pains.
The findings, from a poll indicate that almost half the population would ignore the chest pains that could be heart attack symptoms, and would wait and see if they got better before calling for medical help.
Many would first call their partner, friend, relative, GP or NHS Direct when experiencing chest pain.
The BHF says this attitude is costing thousands of lives as prompt treatment greatly improves greatly the chances of surviving a cardiac arrest and anyone with chest pain should call the emergency services immediately.
It seems that while most people assume that the pain from a heart attack is intense, the first symptoms are often mistaken for indigestion and ignored.
As a result of the survey the BHF have launched a 'Doubt Kills' campaign, urging people not to delay in calling 999 if they are experiencing chest pain.
The campaign features a billboard advert showing a man with a belt tightening around his chest, with the caption ‘A chest pain is your body saying call 999'.
Medical director of the BHF, Peter Weissberg, says the statistics are very worrying and, wonders if British reserve and stoicism account for the reluctance to call 999 even in the most serious of emergencies.
Weissberg says every second counts during a heart attack, and the quicker you call 999 the greater the chance of survival.
He says the message is if you’re suffering chest pain, call 999 immediately, because doubt kills.
Apparently most people who have a heart attack wait for an average of 90 minutes before calling for an ambulance, and an average of two hours and 40 minutes passes before they are treated.
In Britain every two minutes, someone has a heart attack, and about one in three of these people die before reaching hospital.