Brisk walks can reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke by half, research has found.

Scientists say it is the intensity rather than the duration of the exercise that counts, while an hour's daily walk makes little difference.

The research, published in the online health journal BMJ Open, found that daily fast walks cut the risk factors for strokes and heart problems by 50%, while jogging reduced them by 40%.

The study looked at the health of more than 10,000 Danish men and women between the ages of 21 and 98, who were monitored for 10 years.

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  • Heart Attack Symptoms You're Likely To Ignore

  • Burning Pain In Abdomen

    "A dull ache or burning sensation in the epigastrum (upper part of the abdomen). Not all pain typically occurs in the centre of the chest," explains Dr Sanjay Sharma. "The blockage in the heart could cause symptoms similar to indigestion (like fullness, bloating and problems swallowing). If these symptoms longer than two days, seek medical advice."

  • Aching Neck And Jaw

    "Severe pain or pressure sensation around the jaw and neck only could be a sign," says Dr Sanjay Sharma. "If it starts off as a mild discomfort but gradually worsens, seek medical advice immediately."

  • Upper Back Pain

    "Pain in the centre of the upper back is often mistaken for muscular pain, but could be a 'silent heart attack' symptom," says Dr. Sanjay Sharma. "If in doubt, speak to a medical professional as soon as possible."

  • Breathlessness

    "Being suddenly short of breath, without any chest pain could be a sign of a herat attack - although it's more likely to occur in elderly people or diabetics. The chest pain could be due to the lack of oxygen to the heart muscle," says Dr Sanjay Sharma. "The breathlessness is often due to the fact that the heart is no longer pumping properly causing the lungs to fill up with fluid."

  • Dizziness And Sweating

    Dizziness and sweating is a common sign," says Dr Sanjay Sharma. "The sweating is a normal reaction to severe pain and the loss of consciousness may be due to a drop in blood pressure the heart going into a very slow, or very fast electrical rhythm, due to the effects of lack of oxygen."

  • 'Pulled Muscle'

    "If chest pain spreads to your left or right arm, that could be another sign you're having a heart attack. We've heard from heart attack survivors who thought they'd pulled a muscle and waited until the following day before getting themselves to hospital," adds Ellen Mason, senior cardiac nurse from the British Heart Foundation.

Maureen Talbot, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: "This study reminds us that it is only physical activities that leave us feeling warm or breathing more heavily that are good for our health.

"Jogging or walking briskly makes the heart beat faster - exercising the heart muscle - and we should all try to do activities each day which get the blood pumping.

"So if you want to make the walk to work or to the shops part of keeping your heart healthy then try turning it from a leisurely stroll into a power walk to get the benefits."

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  • Step One

    Sit the casualty down in a half sitting position with their knees bent and head and shoulders supported.

  • Step Two

    Call for help. Either call 999 or 112 for emergency help and tell ambulance control you suspect a heart attack.

  • Step Three

    Keep the casualty as calm as possible and reassured

  • Step Four

    Try and find some aspirin (300mg) and if the person isn't allergic to it, tell them to chew it slowly - it can help to limit the extent of the damage to the heart muscle.

  • Step Five

    Monitor the condition of the casualty and reassure them while help arrives.

  • Step Six

    Be informed for the future. For more details about first aid or St John Ambulance <a href="http://www.sja.org.uk/sja/default.aspx" target="_hplink">visit www.sja.org.uk</a> or go to their <a href="http://www.facebook.com/SJA" target="_hplink">Facebook </a>page.

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