iASPIRE – Nationwide Study of Irish Heart Attack Survivors Shows Persistent Behaviours Which Drastically Increase Risk of Further Heart Attack

39% of heart attack survivors are obese, 40% still have high blood pressure and 56% do not have their cholesterol controlled up to 24 months after attack

44% of survivors didn’t get flu vaccine last year, despite flu being a trigger for heart attacks

43% of smokers with heart attacks continue to smoke

Today, the National Institute for Prevention and Cardiovascular Health in Galway, revealed that a new nationwide study of Irish patients who have survived a recent heart attack shows that while some have tried to change their habits, many aren’t succeeding in minimising the risk factors which contributed to the heart attack in the first place.  

 

  • 43% of those who smoked at the time of the heart attack are still smoking up to 24 months later[1]
  • 39% are obese up to 24 months after
  • 50% have central obesity which is where the fat is concentrated around the waist (Waist circumference >=102 cm for men or >=88 cm for women)
  • Of those who were obese, more than 30% had never been told that they were overweight by a medical professional
  • 31% never or rarely take regular activity long enough to work up a sweat
  • 40% still have raised blood pressure; despite nearly 22% measuring their blood pressure at home
  • 56% didn’t reach the goal of reducing their LDL (low-density lipoproteins) cholesterol to below 1.8mmol/L[2]
  • Of those with diabetes, 39% didn’t manage to reach the recommended blood sugar level goal of % HbA1c<7%
  • 44% didn’t get the flu vaccine last year
  • 87% were attending a cardiac prevention or rehabilitation programme for at least half of the sessions  
  • There was wide variability in risk factor control across the 9 sites, suggesting that a standardized national cardiovascular prevention programme would be one solution to the generally poor control of risk factors seen among Irish heart attach survivors.

“This research shows that in certain aspects our health system is making a positive difference to the lives of patients who have recently survived a heart attack.  However, many patients are still struggling with blood pressure, weight, cholesterol, exercise and smoking cessation issues,” said Prof. Bill McEvoy, Professor of Preventive Cardiology, NUI Galway and Medical and Research Director, National Institute for Prevention of Cardiovascular Health at the Croí Heart and Stroke Centre (NIPC).

“Survival of a heart attack is a second chance at life, but only if risk factors are managed.  While we’re seeing better lifestyle habits in some patients, a considerable proportion – if not half – of Irish heart attack survivors are still not making the changes required to prolong their lives. The health system also needs to do more to standardize care for these patients,” concluded Prof. McEvoy.

 


[1] Overall just under 10% of the group were currently smokers, but the 43% represents patients who continued to smoke after a heart attack.

[2] LDL is sometimes referred to as the ‘bad’ cholesterol which leads to a build-up of cholesterol in the arteries

 

Unique Collaboration Brings World Leaders in Heart Health to West of Ireland

A strategic partnership between local heart & stroke charity Croi and NUI Galway is leading the way in positioning Ireland as an international leader in cardiovascular health.

In 2014, Croi set about putting Galway on the map as a centre for leadership in the prevention of heart disease and stroke by establishing the National Institute for Prevention and Cardiovascular Health (NIPC) as an affiliate of NUI Galway. In recent months, two world leaders in heart health have joined NIPC and taken up appointments at NUI Galway, supported by Croi.

Professor David Wood, immediate past president of the World Heart Federation has moved to Galway from Imperial College London as Adjunct Professor of Preventive Cardiology at NUIG and Professor Bill McEvoy has returned to Ireland from John Hopkins University School of Medicine USA as Professor of Preventive Cardiology NUIG; Consultant Cardiologist GUH and Research & Medical Director NIPC.

At a reception in the Croi Heart & Stroke Centre, Newcastle, Galway, to highlight these developments, Prof McEvoy said “I’m delighted to join the team at both NUI Galway and the National Institute for Prevention and Cardiovascular Health (NIPC). Ireland has a long history of leadership and innovation in the prevention of heart disease and stroke. However, like much of the developed world, we now face major challenges in curbing the negative health impacts of obesity, diabetes and an increasingly sedentary western lifestyle. Cardiovascular disease remains the #1 killer in Ireland and reducing the impact of this disease is what drives me and my colleagues at NIPC.”

He went on to say “As research & medical director, I aim to help NIPC become a national and international centre of excellence in the prevention of cardiovascular disease and promotion of cardiovascular health; through clinical excellence, research, and education. For example, because NUI Galway has a strategic interest in population health, NIPC has been able to collaborate heavily with NUI Galway to begin the process of expanding our MSc in Preventive Cardiology into a suite of Masters programs in Lifestyle Medicine and Cardiovascular Health. This suite is designed to train the next generation of clinical leaders in cardiovascular disease prevention – leaders not just in Ireland but around the world. I also hope to bring my years of experience from leading academic health centers around the world to drive forward innovative research aimed at improving heart and stroke outcomes for patients in Galway and Ireland. University Hospital Galway has one of the most dynamic groups of cardiologists in the country and I look forward to collaborating with my outstanding colleagues there to translate the new knowledge gained at NIPC into improved clinical care. Further, it is particularly exciting to have Professor David Wood join NIPC from Imperial College London. David is a world-renowned leader in cardiovascular disease prevention and is well positioned to support me in our mutual efforts to develop NIPC as a national and international centre of excellence.”

Prof David Wood said “I am very proud to be working with Professor Bill McEvoy “ in providing leadership in the prevention of cardiovascular disease at three levels: (i) research into the causes, treatment and prevention of heart disease; (ii) postgraduate teaching in preventive medicine through a new suite of postgraduate courses in cardiovascular health and disease prevention: ‘Preventive Cardiology’; ‘Diabetes and Cardiometabolic Disease’; ‘Obesity and Weight Management’ and ‘Lifestyle Medicine’; and (iii) innovative service development through programmes such as those delivered by Croi in the community”.

Prof Woods went on to say “Preventive healthcare must become both a national and global priority. Prevention through promoting healthier lifestyles, and treating the major risk factors like blood pressure, lipids and diabetes, is the only realistic way to reduce the burden of heart disease and stroke. I am confident that our Institute will become a beacon of excellence in cardiovascular health and disease prevention through research, teaching and innovative service delivery.’