The chance of surviving for years after a heart attack appears to be improving significantly.
Researchers studied 25 years of data for 2,000 people whose lives were saved by resuscitation after their hearts had stopped and who were then released from the hospital. They found a nearly 60% reduction in death from heart disease during the most recent six years (1995 through 2001) compared with the first five-year period (1976 through 1980).
During each successive five-year period since 1976, deaths from all causes dropped about 13% and heart-related deaths dropped 21%. The research was conducted by scientists at the University of Washington and at the Public Health-Seattle and King County Emergency Medical Services Division.
Although heart disease remains the leading cause of death, the steady improvement in survival over the last quarter-century probably can be credited to the improvement in surgical techniques and drug therapies over that time. Bypass surgery, angioplasty and implantable defibrillators all have played a role, says study co-author Thomas D. Rea, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Washington and an epidemiologist at the Public Health-Seattle and King County Emergency Medical Services Division. Lifestyle change may be a factor too, of course.
"If you stop smoking after a heart event or change your diet, it's likely to benefit you," Rea says.
The study was published in Circulation's rapid access version.