Post heart attack care key to survival
Following doctor’s orders after being discharged from the hospital can be more critical than most people realize, particularly with heart attack patients. A new study from the University of Leeds in the U.K. found that people who suffered a heart attack were much more likely to die after leaving the hospital if they neglected even one step of their post-discharge care.
Published in the European Heart Journal: Acute Cardiovascular Care, researchers looked at nine aspects of post-discharge care for heart attack survival, including cardiac rehabilitation, electrocardiogram, use of aspirin, reperfusion (restoring blood flow to the heart), and timely use of heart attack prevention medications.
The study findings showed heart attack patients have a 46 percent increased chance of dying within a month and 74 percent increased chance of dying within a year if one of these components is missing. They discovered about half of 31,000 heart attack patients in England and Wales left out one of these elements of care between 2007 and 2010.
They also found hospitals that did not have as much experience treating heart attack patients or had fewer specialist beds had a higher risk of missing opportunities to deliver appropriate care. For example, hospitals with no beds for cardiology patients missed care opportunities by 11 percent more than hospitals that had 50 or more cardiology beds.
Researchers stressed the need for doctors to communicate that the entire post-discharge package is essential for maintaining post-heart attack health.