FLORENCE, Italy, May 24 (UPI) -- Improvements to care for heart attacks are saving more lives, but researchers suggest survival is also increasing the chance for patients to develop heart failure later in life.
Just under one-quarter of heart attack patients develop heart failure within four years, associating it with several other risk factors for the chronic condition, according to a large review of medical data.
Most research on heart failure development after a heart attack was done when drugs were typically used to clear blood clots in an artery, researchers say, however percutaneous coronary intervention using a stent to clear clots has since proven to be a more effective treatment.
Understanding the increased risk in heart attack patients could help doctors act to prevent the heart failure, say researchers who presented the study at Heart Failure 2016, an annual conference held by the European Society of Cardiology.
Researchers at Heart Failure 2016 also unveiled a new set of guidelines Tuesday for preventing cardiovascular disease, which can increase risk for heart attack and heart failure. The preventive measures recommended by the organization could also be helpful to prevent heart failure in patients who have had heart attacks, researchers say.
"Around one in four patients developed heart failure within four years of a first myocardial infarction [heart attack] in the current era," Dr. Johannes Gho, a cardiology resident at the University Medical Center Utrecht, said in a press release. "This was relatively stable over time possibly due to two competing trends. On the one hand, PCI has improved treatment for myocardial infarction so the risk of heart failure would be expected to decrease. On the other hand, because treatment has improved, more patients are alive after a heart attack to subsequently get heart failure."
For the study, presented at Heart Failure 2016, researchers analyzed records on 24,745 patients who had a heart attack between 1998 and 2010, collected as part of the UK-based CALIBER study of linked electronic health records.
During a median follow-up of 3.7 years, 24.3 percent of patients developed heart failure, with every ten-year rise in age increasing risk by 45 percent and greater socioeconomic deprivation increasing risk by 27 percent.
Conditions among patients that increased risk for heart failure after a heart attack included a 44 percent increased risk from diabetes, 63 percent increased risk from atrial fibrillation, 38 percent increased risk from peripheral arterial disease, 28 percent increased risk from COPD and a 16 percent increased risk from hypertension, researchers reported.
"Finding which heart attack patients are most likely to get heart failure would help us target preventive therapies," Gho said.