The following column appeared in the Barnsley Chronicle published 16 October 2015.
Did you know that Friday 16 October is ‘Restart a Heart Day’? Probably not. Well neither did I until last week when I visited the brilliant staff at the Ambulance Station in Hoyland.
On ‘Restart a Heart Day’, ambulance staff and volunteers will visit 91 schools across the county, including here in Barnsley, to teach CPR (heart resuscitation) to more than 20,000 children in what will be the biggest event of its kind ever seen in the world.
Throughout Europe, the aim of the day is to improve the very low numbers of people surviving out-of-hospital cardiac arrests by teaching members of the public how to help restart the heart of someone who has suffered a cardiac arrest.
In Parliament I’m vice chair of the All-Party Group on Heart Disease. In this role, I work really closely with the fantastic British Heart Foundation (BHF) but the health statistics from Barnsley are alarming.
According to NHS Barnsley CCG, in 2013 more than 70 per cent of us adults in Barnsley were classed as overweight or obese and more than a third of all adults in Barnsley take no exercise.
The BHF estimates that just in my constituency 13,700 people suffer from cardiovascular disease. Nationally around 50,000 men and 32,000 women have a heart attack each year in England.
CPR is a first aid technique that can be used if someone’s heart has stopped by using chest compressions to keep blood and oxygen circulating in the body. By improving CPR knowledge in our community, the NHS estimates survival rates increase by two to three times.
It’s amazing to think that during an average lifetime, the human heart will beat more than 2.5 billion times. But did you also know that coronary heart disease is the biggest killer in the UK? That’s why I’m backing ‘Restart a Heart Day’ and trying to raise awareness.
To find out more, go to www.restartaheart.yas.nhs.uk.