- Only 2% of heart attack survivors have their blood pressure, blood sugar, and bad cholesterol under expert control a year after their incident.
- The researchers suggest that optimal control of these risk factors could theoretically prolong a patient’s life by an additional 7.4 years free of heart attacks or strokes.
- Challenges to treatment goals could be attributed to inadequate medication dosage or a combination of them, as well as significant lifestyle influences.
- Experts assert the importance of a triad approach combining exercise, a healthy diet, and weight management alongside medication.
- Family support was unanimous among experts as being crucial in helping patients adopt healthier lifestyles post-heart attack.
Regrettably, research has revealed that survivors of heart attacks seldom gain comprehensive control over their risk factors.
New studies that reflect this reality have shown that only 2% of the 3,200-plus patients under scrutiny had their blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol expertly controlled a year subsequent to their heart predicament.
The Majority Still Suffers From Elevated Bad Cholesterol
In general, 65% continued to have heightened ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol, whilst 40% suffered from high blood pressure. The picture was equally disheartening when considering lifestyle — with 79% of patients classified as overweight or obese, and 45% failing to get sufficient exercise.
This underscores considerable overlooked possibilities, according to the researchers.
Applying a mathematical model, the researchers inferred that if optimal control of risk factors was observed among the study patients, they could gain an additional 7.4 years free of heart attacks or strokes.
Why Many Patients Fail to Meet Treatment Goals
The reasons why numerous patients fail to meet treatment goals are most probably multifaceted, suggests researcher Tinka Van Trier, associated with the Amsterdam University Medical Center in the Netherlands.
While most patients were indeed on medication, including those to regulate cholesterol and blood pressure or to prevent blood clotting, it’s possible that they were not taking the ideal doses or combination of drugs, according to Van Trier.
Furthermore, lifestyle factors could also be a significant influence, particularly on blood pressure, sugar and cholesterol levels.
The findings were presented by Van Trier during the annual meeting of the European Society of Cardiology, conducted online. Studies divulged during meetings are customarily viewed as premature until they feature in a peer-reviewed journal.
The Exercise, Diet and Weight Management Triad
Dr. Andrew Freeman, a cardiologist uninvolved with the study, advocates for the importance of exercise, a healthy diet and weight management alongside medication. He recommends transitioning to a diet abundant with fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and fiber-rich grains.
These lifestyle changes, including quitting smoking and stress reduction, can be effectively facilitated through cardiac rehabilitation programs prescribed for patients following a heart attack.
“I wholeheartedly endorse cardiac rehab,” expressed Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones, president of the American Heart Association. These monitored settings allow patients to regain confidence in their bodies following a traumatizing event, such as a heart attack.
Alternative Resources and the Role of Doctor-Patient Communication
Patients are advised by Van Trier to discuss their concerns, including smoking cessation assistance and dietitian referral for nutritional and weight loss advice, with their doctors. Physicians may also recommend local exercise programs.
When it comes to medication, any patient concern should always be communicated to their doctor: “If you’re worried about a potential side effect, converse with your doctor before discontinuing a medication,” said Lloyd-Jones.
Family Support: An Essential Element
Unquestionably, all three experts agree on the critical role family support plays. It becomes considerably easier for patients to improve their diet, start exercising, or quit smoking with someone joining them in their journey.
If the entire family integrates these healthy choices, it not only assists the patient, but also contributes towards improving everyone’s heart health.
The American Heart Association provides more information concerning
life after suffering a heart attack.