Figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that 525,000 Americans suffer from a first heart attack per year.
Heart attack, or myocardial infarction, occurs when a part of the heart muscle does not receive enough blood flow. The condition is characterized by pain or discomfort in the chest, arms, shoulders, jaw, neck or back; shortness of breath; and weakness.
While many manage to survive their first heart attack because of improved treatment, they still continue to face potentially fatal health threats.
Findings of a new study have shown that despite increasing survival rate from first heart attacks, 1 in 4 patients remains likely to develop heart failure within four years.
Johannes Gho, from the University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands, and colleagues looked at the health data of nearly 25,000 individuals who had a first heart attack.
The researchers found that within a four-year period, 25 percent of these patients developed heart failure, a condition that elevates the chances of hospitalization and death.
Gho and colleagues also observed that there are certain risk factors that appear to boost the chances of heart failure following a heart attack. A 45 percent increase in risk, for instance, was observed with every 10-year rise in age. The poorest patients also had a 27 percent increased risk.
Health conditions such as diabetes, atrial fibrillation, peripheral arterial disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, ST elevation myocardial infarction and hypertension were also found to be associated with increased risk for heart failure after a first attack.
"Previous research looking at all cause heart failure, not only after myocardial infarction, has found similar risk factors," Gho said. "Our large cohort study confirms that these are also risky conditions for heart attack patients in the current era."
A study released in March showed that heart attacks become more common among younger people in the U.S. amid rising obesity rate. The researchers said that being able to identify risk factors in heart attack patients may help in predicting their likelihood of developing heart failure, which could allow for timely treatment that may reduce the risk.
The findings were presented at the 3rd World Congress on Acute Heart Failure of the Heart Failure 2016, which concluded on May 24.