The Irish Heart Foundation (IHF) has responded to the findings of the Irish Heart Attack Audit National Report 2017-2020 with a call for the Department of Health to develop a new cardiovascular strategy.
The report was launched at the National Office of Clinical Audit Annual Conference 2022. It analysed data on 5,629 patients with a ST elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) over a four-year period.
The audit found that smokers who have heart attacks are considerably younger than non-smokers, with a greater disparity in women than men.
The research found that male smokers are having heart attacks, on average, at the age of 56 compared to 65 for non-smoking males.
Smoking increases the risk for women by 16 years, from 76 to 60.
A total of 64 per cent of patients who experienced a heart attack under the age of 40 were smokers, while in general, 34 per cent of all age groups were smokers at the time of admission.
“The Department of Health’s Changing Cardiovascular Health: Cardiovascular Health Policy 2010 – 2019 established a framework for the prevention, detection and treatment of cardiovascular diseases, to reduce the burden of these conditions,” Dr Angie Brown, Medical Director, IHF, said.
“However, it has lapsed and unfortunately it has not been replaced with an updated policy, even though it covered prevention, clinical management of cardiovascular disease and all aspects of healthcare – from childhood through old age, from pre-hospital emergency care to rehabilitation and palliative care.
“The plan is now out of date and no formal review of the policy and the implementation of its recommendations has taken place.
“The scope and parameters of the current national cardiac services review does not include a full and holistic approach to cardiovascular health, so preparations must begin for the development of a new cardiovascular health policy, with a lead unit in the Department of Health.
“A critical part of this new policy should be an increased focus on prevention and early diagnosis, as had been the case in the previous policy.
“We can see from the findings of the report, the need for a comprehensive and focused campaign on prevention and awareness, particularly around the symptoms of heart attacks as well as the risk factors particularly smoking.”