A study by HUS (Helsinki University Hospital) has highlighted that the majority of heart attacks, or myocardial infarctions, can be prevented through healthy lifestyle choices. Despite the gradual decrease in new heart attack cases since the mid-1990s in both men and women, an alarming rise has been observed among women aged 35-54. This increase, according to Professor Juha Sinisalo, a Cardiology Professor at the Heart and Lung Center, might be linked to the growing prevalence of obesity.
Heart attacks, characterized by sudden damage to the heart muscle due to oxygen deprivation, are often caused by a blockage in the coronary artery. These conditions silently develop over time and are among the most significant reducers of life years. Risk factors include smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle.
Symptoms typically appear when an artery is already blocked. “Most heart attacks could be prevented if risk factors were managed in time. Effective prevention of the first attack can be achieved through lifestyle changes and, if necessary, medication for blood pressure and cholesterol,” says Dr. Sinisalo.
In terms of treatment, heart attacks, especially in their early stages, can be excellently managed with angioplasty and potent medication. Adhering to treatment guidelines can significantly reduce the risk of recurrence.
Innovative Pharmacogenetic Panel for Personalized Medication
The continuous development of new treatments for heart and vascular diseases is a focal point of HUS's strategy. At Meilahti Tower Hospital, a pharmacogenetic panel is used to tailor medication for heart attack patients. This genetic test, performed on a patient's blood sample, helps choose the most suitable medication and minimize side effects, with results available in about 1-2 weeks.
Another significant development is the Coronary Artery Disease Digital Care Pathway offered by Terveyskylä, a joint digital health service of university hospitals. This digital pathway provides reliable information about the disease and connects patients with healthcare professionals. Patients can use it to maintain a symptom diary, book laboratory appointments and follow-ups, and manage their medication.
This study underscores the importance of prevention and personalized treatment in combating heart attacks. By addressing risk factors early and employing customized medication strategies, significant strides can be made in reducing the incidence and severity of heart attacks.