WASHINGTON, D.C. –
Inside the Heart of a Survivor
The survey of more than 500 African-American heart attack survivors taps into the emotional impacts of heart attacks. A majority indicate their heart attack forced them to face their mortality (62 percent), they now spend more time with friends and family (66 percent), are motivated to accomplish goals (62 percent), and are trying to move closer to God and their faith (67 percent). A majority of heart attack survivors also say the experience made them realize how much they want to see their children and grandchildren grow up (68 percent).
The survey also shows that in addition to viewing their heart attack as a wake-up call (68 percent), those surveyed also acknowledge that they are at a higher risk for having another heart attack (93 percent), and that they are at an increased risk of developing a chronic condition such as heart failure (73 percent).
“Studies show that African-American heart patients may have a different natural history of heart failure than non–African-American patients and may be less likely to receive guideline-recommended, evidence-based therapies due to less access to care. Certain heart medications, like beta-blockers, are often underutilized even though they’ve been shown to reduce the chance of another heart attack and reduce the risk of dying in heart attack patients with damaged hearts,” stated Dr. Clyde Yancy, medical director of the Baylor Heart and Vascular Institute of Baylor University Medical in Dallas, Texas. “As an unfortunate result, rehospitalization rates among African-American heart patients are high. In addition, the incidence of diabetes and hypertension in this population further complicates post-heart attack treatment. Therefore, it is critical that the African-American heart attack survivors, along with their families, are aware of the risks and gain the information and support they need.”
About Heart Attacks
Each year in the U.S., nearly 900,000 people suffer from heart attacks, known medically as myocardial infarction. Within only six years, nearly 20 percent of men and 35 percent of women will have another heart attack, a risk that is heightened in the winter months. Annually, it is estimated that nearly 125,000 African-Americans will experience a new or repeat heart attack or fatal cardiovascular disease event. In fact, more than 18,000 African-American men and women died as a result a heart attack in 2002.
Heart attacks occur when the blood supply to part of the heart muscle is severely reduced or blocked. This narrowing of the coronary vessels is often linked with risk factors such as smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, physical inactivity and obesity. Risk factors may also be associated with family history.