Urgent need to improve survival for heart attack patients with pre-existing conditions

7 March 2018        

Category: Research

Patients who are living with other illnesses are likely to survive for significantly shorter times after a heart attack, according to new research that we've part-funded.

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Heart attack patients who were already suffering from heart failure had the shortest survival time of all patients, with half surviving for less than 4 months after having their heart attack.

This comes as latest statistics show that over 550,000 people are now registered as having heart failure in the UK.

60 per cent had other illnesses 

In the study published in Plos Medicine, a BHF-funded team of researchers from the University of Leeds used data from the Myocardial Ischaemia National Audit Project (MINAP) to analyse 693,388 cases of heart attack, in 247 hospitals in England between 1st January 2003 and 30th June 2013.

The team found that around 60 per cent of all heart attack patients were already suffering from other illnesses prior to their heart attack, including; diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, and cerebrovascular disease. Around 5 per cent of the heart attack patients previously suffered from heart failure. 

What causes heart failure?

Around 50 per cent of heart failure patients have developed the condition as a result of a heart attack.  During a heart attack, the heart is deprived of oxygen and scars form in the damaged muscle. These scars stop the heart muscle from contracting properly and reduce the heart’s ability to pump blood around the body.

Giving people the best chance of recovery

Professor Jeremy Pearson, our Associate Medical Director, warned that as the population ages more work needs to be done to care for people with multiple illnesses:

 “As the population gets older, more and more people who experience a heart attack are already suffering from a number of other illnesses. 

“We need to make sure that we’re providing the best possible care for people with these conditions, to both reduce their chance of having a heart attack, and to give them the best possible chance of recovering from a heart attack should the worst happen.”


read more about our research into heart attacks