NHS.

Taking the drama out of heart attacks

When a cliche gets in the way

The dramatic film cliché of a “clutch and drop” cardiac arrest has taken root as the popular understanding of a heart attack. But it’s a misconception. The actual symptoms of heart attack vary and can feel far less severe. THE NHS needed to create better understanding of the true signs. And give people permission and confidence to call 999 much earlier.

A new story inspired by survivors

For this campaign to work, we needed to sear a new understanding of heart attacks onto the public consciousness. Talking to clinicians and heart attack survivors, the language of a “squeezing across the chest” emerged as a clear description of a key symptom dismissed by many. Simple words, but they needed a memorable image.

Getting to grips with the problem

The campaign shows disembodied hands creeping across and pressing against a chest. It’s an unsettling visual that captures both the symptom, and the sense of unease that comes with it. Simple language explains the symptoms clearly and concisely, and gives that all important permission to call 999, earlier.

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