Permanently changed lifestyle: Long-term prevention protects against another heart attack
The severe cold in recent weeks has been associated with a high risk of heart attack, according to health experts. Anyone who has ever had a myocardial infarction must generally make their lifestyle healthier in the long term. But unfortunately, many people affected return to the old unhealthy lifestyle after a certain time. Experts explain how heart attack patients can be motivated for a healthy life in the long term.
Patients often quickly return to unhealthy lifestyle
Around 300,000 people in Germany suffer a heart attack (myocardial infarction) each year. In acute cases, quick action is necessary. Because timely diagnosis saves lives. After an infarction, it is usually important that those affected not only take medication, but also change their lifestyle and, for example, exercise more, eat healthier and avoid alcohol and tobacco. Unfortunately, many patients do not adhere to such recommendations permanently and will soon return to their unhealthy lifestyle. Experts are now reporting on how those affected can better motivate themselves.
Motivated only for a short time
Anyone who has suffered a heart attack and wants to quickly find their way back to their job and want to be fully present again for their family has to (besides taking medication) with the help of rehabilitation, above all, permanently change their lifestyle, writes the German Heart Foundation in a message.
Affected people should not smoke, exercise enough and eat healthy. But rehab specialists complain that the effects of rehabilitation only have a limited impact on many patients.
“Many patients are only motivated for a short time to improve their risk factors after a heart attack, but a few months later the old unhealthy lifestyle comes back. This increases the risk of another heart attack, ”says Prof. Dr. med. Harm Wienbergen, head of the IPP study ("Intensive prevention program after acute myocardial infarction in northwest Germany").
The study, which Wienbergen initiated together with Prof. Rainer Hambrecht from the Bremen Institute for Cardiovascular Research (BIHKF) at Klinikum Links der Weser, is intended to help heart attack patients to keep their lifestyle healthy in the long term and not to fall back into the old routine.
After acute treatment in rehabilitation
According to the information, over 76,000 people with heart disease go into rehabilitation after acute treatment. About 80 percent of rehab patients suffer from coronary artery disease (CAD).
Combating the risk diseases for heart attack and stroke such as high blood pressure, lipid metabolism disorders (high cholesterol), obesity (obesity) and diabetes is therefore the focus of cardiological rehabilitation.
The IPP study now examined how the effects of cardiac rehabilitation can be maintained or even improved over the long term.
Intensive prevention program
Results of the IPP study with a total of 310 patients show that a long-term intensive prevention program with pedometers and telemedical observation, regular group training (once a month) and telephone contacts enormously helps physical activity and the setting of the cardiovascular risk factors and the Improve patient quality of life after twelve months.
The medical prevention assistants play a key role, coordinating the interdisciplinary collaboration between clinic, family doctor and cardiologist and maintaining close contact with patients and relatives.
These assistants also ensured that the patient's family doctors were involved in the treatment recommendations.
After twelve months, over 10,000 steps a day
Endurance exercise in cardiac patients is important because it has positive effects. a. on the blood flow to the heart and on the function of the endothelium, the inner layer with which blood vessels are lined.
How effective the intensive long-term prevention program was was shown in a sub-study of the IPP study to increase patient movement. The IPP group was compared to a control group that received only standard care.
79.5% of the patients in the IPP group documented their steps, 69.7% longer than six months. The number of steps increased on average from 8,073 steps per day at the start of the study to over 9,500 steps after six months and to over 10,000 steps after twelve months.
For patients who increased their daily step count by more than 30 percent within six months, the body mass index (BMI) (decrease by 3.9%) improved, the blood pressure (decrease by 4, 9%) and the LDL cholesterol value (4.9% reduction).
“Overall, the patient's acceptance of pedometers and online documentation over a longer period of time was good. Through repeated training and the use of the pedometer, the patients could be motivated to be significantly more active than the control patients, ”said Prof. Wienbergen.
"The study showed us that the possibilities of long-term prevention in CHD patients are far from exhausted: after heart attacks, patients should be better connected in the long term with controls on risk factors." (Ad)