Sudden Heart Attack Predictors Identified

Heart attack patients with hypertension at a higher risk of death

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Researchers have long pondered whether it might be possible to predict the likelihood that someone will survive a heart attack. Certain traits may be good predictors.

Certain traits among heart attack patients such as race or ethnicity, hypertension, heart rate and body mass index may help differentiate which patients are likely to survive a heart attack.

"Talk to your cardiologist about your heart attack risk."

Dr. Elsayed Z. Soliman, director of the Epidemiological Cardiology Research Center at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and lead author of the study, said that for some patients their first attack attack may be their last, which makes it particularly important that doctors find ways to prevent an initial heart attack from occurring.

Dr. Soliman said between 230,000 and 325,000 in the United States die from sudden cardiac death each year, many as a result of coronary artery disease.

Because sudden cardiac death often occurs before patients make it to a hospital, identifying predictors to separate the risk of sudden cardiac death from heart attacks that are not immediately fatal could be a first step in prevention, Dr. Soliman said.

A research team examined data from two large U.S. cardiovascular studies including the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities and the Cardiovascular Health Study, reviewing records for more than 18,000 patients. After looking at the common risk factors for coronary heart disease and the competing risk of sudden cardiac death with coronary heart disease, they discovered several predictors regarding survival.

Those that are black were considered to be at a high risk of sudden cardiac death, but a lower risk of coronary heart disease. Hypertension and increased heart rate were stronger predictors of a high risk of sudden cardiac death compared to coronary artery disease.

Individuals with an extremely high or low body mass index were considered at an increased risk of sudden cardiac death, but not coronary artery disease.  Additional technical ECG report traits also could predict a higher risk of sudden cardiac death.

Dr. Soliman said that if the study results are confirmed through additional research, it could give doctors a way to identify who is at a greater risk of dying suddenly following a heart attack. This could result in establishing a group of patients suitable for early intervention, including risk factor monitoring, such as weight maintenance and blood pressure oversight.

The study was published in journal Heart.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
July 26, 2011
Last Updated:
July 27, 2011