Heart attack 'kills six people under 65 every week'
Heart attacks kill six people of working age every week in Northern Ireland, a charity has warned.
Research conducted by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) NI found that 314 people aged under 65 died from heart failure in the region last year.
Launching a new awareness campaign, the charity said the figures demonstrated the need for urgent medical research into the causes of cardiac disease.
In 2013/14, there were 5,400 heart attacks - including retired and working age people - treated in Northern Ireland hospitals. This was up from 4,600 the year before - an increase the BHF said could be due to better diagnosis and recording.
Around 74,000 people in Northern Ireland are living with coronary heart disease and the BHF said it remained the region's single biggest killer.
Despite improvements in treatment and diagnosis, the charity warned that around a third of heart attacks are still fatal.
It said that stark figure shows the necessity of further research.
Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director at the BHF, said: "Through medical research, we've made great progress in saving the lives of people suffering from heart attacks. But we mustn't be lulled into thinking we've beaten the disease. Every year thousands of people are still dying from heart attacks, and coronary heart disease remains the UK's single biggest killer.
"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."
Jayne Murray, Head of BHF NI, said: "Every week heart attacks devastate local families, by killing loved ones and leaving many others with debilitating heart conditions that make the rest of their life a daily struggle.
"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 from heart disease."