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Heart patients "not seeking help"

A charity has warned that people in the North East of England are not taking advantage of vital support services for heart conditions.

According to the British Heart Foundation, there are more than 127,000 people living with coronary heart disease in the region, but its "Heart Helpline" only receives a low number of calls from patients and their families.

Patients who suffer acute cardiac events often develop depression, with up to 20% of individuals having a major depressive episode within a few weeks.

A further 25% experience milder depression in the weeks following a cardiac condition.

However, with special care and support these mental health issues can be tackled and specialists can assist a patient's recovery from a heart attack.

Cardiac nurse, Ellen Mason, said: "There are hidden costs to heart disease that most people wouldn't think of - the impact that it can have on their jobs, income, family life, and mental wellbeing.

"No one should have to deal with all those things without the offer of support, but people often don't know that their experiences and feelings are normal, or feel they can talk about it."

In response the BHF has launched a campaign to get heart patients and their families to seek support and information by contacting the dedicated Heart HelpLine.

Copyright © Press Association 2009

British Heart Foundation