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Despite increasing survival rates from first heart attacks, one in four patients remains likely to develop heart failure within four years.

By Allianz Worldwide Care | June 24, 2016

Allianz Partners - Despite increasing survival rates from first heart attacks, one in four patients remains likely to develop heart failure within four years.

The study was presented at the 3rd World Congress on Acute Heart Failure 2016 by Dr Johannes Gho, a cardiology resident at the University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands.

Dr. Gho and fellow researchers looked at the health data of nearly 25,000 individuals who had suffered a first heart attack. They found that within a four-year period, 25 per cent of these patients developed heart failure.

"Heart failure is a major medical problem with a high chance of hospitalisation and death," said Dr Gho. "Patients with ischaemic heart disease are at the highest risk. This includes those who have had a myocardial infarction, also called heart attack." He continued, "Finding which heart attack patients are most likely to get heart failure would help us target preventive therapies,".

Heart failure is caused by the heart failing to pump enough blood around the body at the right pressure, and usually occurs because the heart has become too weak to function properly.

Dr. Ulrike Sucher, Medical Director at Allianz Worldwide Care said, “The study clearly identifies and quantifies the risk factors for heart failure. The good news is that although not all of them are preventable -- they are all treatable. I strongly urge our insured members to visit a Specialist to receive gold standard treatment for Hypertension, Diabetes , peripheral artery disease and COPD : You are fully covered by AWC to receive the world’s best standard of care.”

The study identified a number of factors which were associated with an increased risk of developing heart failure after a first heart attack. These include:

  • Age (45% increased risk with every 10 year rise in age)
  • Greater socioeconomic deprivation (27% increased risk)
  • Diabetes (44% increased risk)
  • Atrial fibrillation (63% increased risk)
  • Peripheral arterial disease (38% increased risk)
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (28% increased risk)
  • ST elevation myocardial infarction at presentation (21% increased risk)
  • Hypertension (16% increased risk)

Dr Gho said: "Previous research looking at all cause heart failure, not only after myocardial infarction, has found similar risk factors. Our large cohort study confirms that these are also risky conditions for heart attack patients in the current era."

Identifying these factors could help doctors prevent heart failure in the years following a heart attack.

During a heart attack the supply of blood to the heart is suddenly blocked, usually by a blood clot and the subsequent lack of blood to the heart can seriously damage the heart muscle.

Dr Gho concluded: "Identifying these prognostic factors in heart attack patients could help us predict their risk of developing heart failure and allow us to give treatments to reduce that risk."

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