A new study has shown that controlling the risk factors for heart disease, such as blood pressure and cholesterol as well as improvements in hospital management, may lessen the severity of first-time heart attack, eventually leading to reductions in mortality rates.
The study led by Columbia University researchers revealed that the severity of first heart attacks has dropped significantly in the United States, propelling a decline in coronary heart disease deaths.
"This landmark study suggests that better prevention and better management in the hospital have contributed to the reduction in deaths," said Merle Myerson, M.D., Ed.D., lead author of the study, cardiologist and director of the Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Program at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital of Columbia University in New York City.
"Better control of risk factors for heart disease, such as blood pressure and cholesterol as well as improvements in hospital management may lessen the severity if somebody has a heart attack.
"We also considered whether people had less severity because they got to the hospital sooner, but that was not the case," Myerson added.
While analysing the data of Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) data gathered from 1987 to 1994 including an extra eight years, the researchers found more consistent picture with a clear decline in severity of heart attacks.
"The reduction in severity of first-time heart attacks, along with other factors, has impacted on the declining number of deaths from coronary heart disease" Myerson said.
"This tells us that better primary prevention as well as better care for those with acute heart attacks is working.
"Attributing the reduction in severity to specific causes will be an important next step so effective strategies can be reinforced and public health policies can be better directed," Myerson added.
The study appears in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.