Heart attacks kill six people here every week under the age of 65
Six people under retirement age die from heart attacks in Northern Ireland every week, new figures have revealed.
The statistics showed that last year more than 300 local people who suffered a fatal heart attack were aged under 65, while the total UK death toll was 10,000.
British Heart Foundation (BHF) NI unveiled the figures as it launched a new campaign to highlight how heart conditions, including heart attacks, can suddenly devastate families every day.
In 2013/14, 5,400 heart attacks were treated in Ulster'shospitals, 800 more than the previous year.
The charity said the increase could be due to better diagnosis and recording.
BHF Medical Director, Professor Peter Weissberg, said medical research has led to great progress in saving the lives of people suffering from heart attacks.
But he warned against thinking the disease has been beaten.
"Every year thousands of people are still dying from heart attacks, and coronary heart disease remains the UK's single biggest killer," Professor Weissberg said.
"We urgently need to fund more research to find new ways to prevent and treat heart attacks, and ultimately, save more lives.
"Despite knowing there are genetic and lifestyle factors which increase the risk of heart attacks, we still have no way to stop the furring of the arteries in coronary heart disease that is responsible for causing so many heart attacks.
"This is a challenge that only research can provide the answer to."
Although figures for heart attack deaths remain high, BHF-funded medical research has helped to significantly improve survival rates.
But BHF NI said further research is needed to save lives and combat the main cause of heart attack - coronary heart disease. The charity said that people understand about the processes that leads to atherosclerosis - which causes narrowing of arteries and potentially fatal heart attacks.
Jayne Murray, Head of BHF NI, said: "The only way we can find new ways to prevent and treat heart attacks is by funding more research.
"Every penny British Heart Foundation Northern Ireland has spent on research that is today saving lives has been donated by our generous supporters.
"We now need the continued backing of our supporters if we're to make the advances that could save even more local lives."
In 2014, 9,929 people under the age of 65 died from coronary heart disease in the UK.
The BHF currently funds around £100 million of new research in to heart and circulatory disease each year.
To help BHF Northern Ireland visit bhf.org.uk/fightback