One of the largest studies assessing the perceptions of Australian heart attack survivors and those who care for them has uncovered a concerning level of patient complacency, and has highlighted the emotional burden faced by carers of those living in the shadow of our nation's biggest killer.
Two Hearts One Future, led by the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute and sponsored by AstraZeneca, revealed that many heart attack survivors underestimate their risk of having a future heart attack, and fail to follow their GP's advice or attend rehabilitation (carers maintain that around half of survivors do so). Conversely, carers appear to be more deeply affected post-event, carrying a greater emotional burden and expressing concern that nearly half of survivors (45%) hadn't taken responsibility for their future heart health.
According to Professor Simon Stewart, Head of Preventative Cardiology at Baker IDI, the study serves as a major wake up call to Australians living with coronary heart disease (the primary underlying cause of heart attack) and highlights the need for more effective secondary prevention and ongoing support programs for heart attack survivors.
"The findings suggest that heart attack survivors are failing to make the necessary lifestyle changes to mitigate their risk of a repeat heart attack," said Professor Stewart.
"Nearly one in four people who are fortunate to survive a heart attack will go on to have another episode or require medical intervention. Within a year, one in 11 of these people will die. But despite the odds, many of the survivors we surveyed weren't following optimal care strategies. I think we need to place greater emphasis on patient education, supported by innovative strategies such as telephone support and in-home care," he added.