Nearly half of Irish heart attack survivors who smoked at the time of heart attack are still smoking up to two years later, a new study has found.
The numbers persisting with behaviours that drastically increase their risk of another heart attack are alarmingly high with two in five victims still obese up to two years after their heart attack.
The study also reveals nearly one third (31%) of heart attack victims never or rarely undertake regular activity long enough to work up a sweat.
Of those who are obese, more than 30% have never been told that they are overweight by a medical professional.
Nearly half (44%) didn’t get the flu vaccine last year, despite flu being a trigger for heart attacks.
Bill McEvoy, Professor of Preventive Cardiology, NUI Galway, agreed the findings show that some patients are reckless about their health.
“Some are, to be frank,” he said.
Prof McEvoy said survival of a heart attack “is a second chance at life, but only if risk factors are managed”.
The study also found
The study involved 721 patients interviewed six-24 months post heart attack at nine hospital sites across Ireland, four of which have 24 hour cath labs, where diagnostic and interventional procedures are carried out, including University Hospital Galway, Cork University Hospital, St James and University Hospital Limerick.
Five sites without 24 hour cath labs were also included - Portlaoise, Tallaght, Blanchardstown, Sligo and Letterkenny. Of the heart attack survivors group, 97% had received surgical intervention to either bypass or open up coronary arteries.
Prof McEvoy said it is “a very deep dive, high quality and significant study and we are very confident of the results”.
Prof McEvoy, who is Medical and Research Director of the National Institute for Prevention and Cardiovascular Health (NIPC), said they “noted quite a wide variability” in how care is delivered and how patients react to the advice given to them across the different sites.
“We don’t want to identify sites as poorly performing because there are different demographics at play. It is hard to compare an inner city Dublin site with a rural site,” he said.
There are other factors too — eg not all sites offer referral to cardiac rehabilitation.
Prof McEvoy said the variability between sites “speaks to the need for a uniform, standardised national cardiovascular prevention programme”. This would be “one solution to the generally poor control of risk factors seen among Irish heart attack survivors,” he said.
Such a programme would focus on how preventative care is delivered in secondary settings and it would involve bringing patients back six to 12 months post heart attack to measure their risk factors.
Details of the iASPIRE study, an extension of the pan-European survey EuroAspire, were presented yesterday at the Irish Cardiac Society’s Annual Scientific Meeting and AGM.