9 August 2011
The vast majority of patients who survive a heart attack underestimate their risk of a second attack, a survey has found.
The online survey of 300 Australian adults hospitalised for heart attack in the past 5 years found 38 per cent either stopped taking prescribed medicines to reduce blood clotting or changed the dose without consulting their GP.
Some 44 per cent expressed concern about the medicines and half did not know how they worked.
The survey, conducted for Heart Support-Australia (which is sponsored by Eli Lilly), also found that while 85 per cent of patients made lifestyle changes, such as improving diet and physical activity or quitting smoking, a quarter did not persist with the changes beyond 3 months.
"A substantial number of people think that their heart attack is a one-off thing," said Perth cardiologist Associate Professor Paul Langton.
"They think once their heart attack is over, they can go on their way and they don't seem to understand that they have an underlying blood vessel problem and they remain at high risk."
The survey found that 40 per cent of patients did not attend cardiac rehabilitation.
"One of the reasons we want cardiac patients to go back and see their GP regularly is to have that ongoing reinforcement of messages about medication and about lifestyle," Professor Langton said.
With around 40 per cent of cardiac patients being smokers, post-hospital care often included a referral to the Quit program, but many patients give up trying to stop smoking.
"With ongoing GP visits, they can be encouraged to ... at least cut down, which goes some way to reducing the risk of a second cardiac event," he said.
Last Reviewed: 09 August 2011