HomeHealth'Know Your Numbers' to prevent a heart attack

‘Know Your Numbers’ to prevent a heart attack

There’s a new online resource aimed at helping those who’ve had a heart attack to avoid another one. The resource, Know Your Numbers, Treat Your Risk, which was launched last week, is the work of the Global Alliance of Patient Access (GAfPA).

Most people are probably unaware that one in 10 heart attack survivors will have another heart attack within 12 months. Through the Know Your Numbers, Treat Your Risk website, the GAfPA is hoping to help reduce that rate of recurrence.

Professor Charlotte Hespe, from the Sydney School of Medicine, says the resource is about empowering patients.

“Empowering people who have had a heart attack to engage in their ongoing healthcare by working with their GP to develop a plan for their heart health has been shown to be critical to secondary prevention,” says Prof. Hespe.

Know Your Numbers, Treat Your Risk uses educational resources, patient stories and interviews with experts to empower patients with the knowledge, tools and support to reduce their risk of another heart attack or stroke,” she added.

What do they mean by ‘Know Your Numbers’?

The broad focus of the Know Your Numbers, Treat Your Risk resource are indicators such as blood pressure and weight. However, there is one particular number that does not quite get the focus it should, according to the GAfPA. That number measures your cholesterol.

According to the GAfPA, many doctors do not achieve target LDL-C cholesterol levels that meet Australian or international guidelines. LDL-C is low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol, and is often described as the ‘bad cholesterol’.

Depending on where you are in the world, the magic number for recovering heart attack patients is either 1.8 or 1.4. Those numbers refer to millimoles per litre of LDL-C.

Australian guidelines currently recommend an LDL-C of less than 2 mmol/L for primary prevention and below 1.8 mmol/L for secondary prevention. But more recently released international guidelines recommend target LDL-C should be below 1.4 mmol/L for secondary prevention.

Given the international guidelines are more recent ones, the lower number is likely the better one to target.

Is it only about cholesterol?

No, it isn’t. The Know Your Numbers, Treat Your Risk website acknowledges another generally under-recognised issue for post-heart attack patients. For many heart attack survivors, poor mental health can also be a factor. The GAfPA says as many as 75 per cent of recovering patients experience what are known as the ‘cardiac blues’.

The Know Your Numbers, Treat Your Risk website devotes an entire section to dealing with the topic. Signs of having cardiac blues include:

  • loss of interest in usual activities
  • feeling tearful and crying easily
  • withdrawal from family and friends
  • thoughts about death
  • confusion and forgetfulness
  • diminished sex drive
  • decreased appetite
  • poor sleep quality, including nightmares.

Developed in conjunction with other heart health organisations, the Know Your Numbers, Treat Your Risk resource could be a ‘game-changer’. ‘One in 10’ sounds small, but nobody wants to be the one in 10 to suffer a secondary heart attack.

By using the Know Your Numbers, Treat Your Risk resource, you could help to ensure you aren’t that ‘one in 10’. And ultimately that one-in-10 risk may become much smaller. That’s certainly a number worth pursuing.

Were you aware of atherosclerosis and its associated risks? Will these findings change your attitude towards heart health? Let us know in the comments section below.

Also read: Long-term beta blocker use after heart attack not beneficial

Andrew Gigacz
Andrew Gigaczhttps://www.patreon.com/AndrewGigacz
Andrew has developed knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income and government entitlements, as well as issues affecting older Australians moving into or living in retirement. He's an accomplished writer with a passion for health and human stories.
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