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Heart attack patients 'not following advice'

26 August 2015 12:12

Some heart attack patients are not taking the correct steps to look after their health

Some heart attack patients are not taking the correct steps to look after their health

Only a fifth of heart attack patients are following advice on how to look after their heart health and prevent another attack, research reveals.

One in five still smoke, according to the survey commissioned by AstraZeneca, while almost three in five are overweight.

This failure to heed the recommendations of cardiologists and make lifestyle changes is putting patients at risk of heart problems in the future.

Lack of understanding

The British Heart Foundation estimates around 50,000 men and 32,000 women have a heart attack each year in England.

Of these, one in five will suffer another heart attack at some point in their lives.

A lack of understanding is putting patients at risk, it is believed.

Almost half of the 150 people surveyed believe their heart attack was an isolated event, while nearly two in five think full recovery from a heart attack can be achieved within a year.

Joe Mills, a consultant cardiologist and president-elect of the British Association for Cardiac Prevention and Rehabilitation, says patients are not acting on advice because they do not appreciate the seriousness of the long-term risks they face.

He claims the fundamental misunderstanding is that patients do not know that a heart attack is an acute manifestation of a chronic disease process.

His views are echoed by the 100 cardiologists who were questioned as part of the poll.

Lifestyle choices

The research suggests there is a noticeable gap between the lifestyle changes patients need to make compared to the actions they actually take.

It is recommended that patients quit smoking, do not exceed the recommended daily limits for alcohol intake, follow a diet that is rich in omega-3 - a fatty acid found in fish - and exercise regularly.

Patients can still enjoy holidaying abroad thanks to medical travel insurance, which covers heart conditions from cardiomyopathy to cardiac arrhythmia.

While lifestyle is important for everyone, Dr Mills claims it is even more important for heart attack patients.

He says there is a need for patients to work with healthcare professionals both in the short and longer term, in order to achieve the appropriate lifestyle changes that could improve their health and prevent further events.