Focus on the heart - many suffer from heart attack and cardiac arrest each year

Published: 21 February 2020

Every year around 24,800 people in Sweden have a heart attack. About 12 percent of these suffer from a second heart attack. What is important for the affected person and what do staff think is important in cardiac rehabilitation? This was the topic when Ulrica Strömbäck, a researcher at Luleå University of Technology, presented a study at Vetenskapens hus on Valentine's Day that compared patients' and healthcare staff's views on rehabilitation. She also held a course in cardiovascular rescue.

A heart attack (a plug in the heart) is really a symptom of a chronic disease - atherosclerosis. If a person has had a heart attack and survived, it is important to work so that the person does not get another one. This means that a large part of the rehabilitation after the first heart attack is to reduce the risk of re-illness, so-called secondary prevention.

Important to change your lifestyle

How, then, should you live to avoid a heart attack? The diet is important: more fruits, vegetables, fish and vegetable oils, reduced intake of red meat, salt and sugar. Regular exercise that focuses on fitness, mobility and strength is a prerequisite for increased well-being. You do not have to take off completely, but a little and often is best. Something that gives a quick effect is to quit smoking. It is also of the utmost importance to take the medicines prescribed.

Everyone is unique

When Ulrica Strömbäck has interviewed people affected by two heart infections and staff in cardiac rehabilitation, both groups say that the most important thing is to see each of the patients as a unique person.

– The affected person wants the care to be tailor-made for them. They want a concrete action plan with feedback from the health care staff how they are doing in the rehabilitation, a follow-up of their medicines and more knowledge about what causes myocardial infarction, Ulrica Strömbäck said. Patients also want to be able to feel confident in the care.

Some patients also wished to remain as patients in the hospital with proximity to specially trained staff, instead of being transferred to a health center. Some felt they lacked information on what to do if they suffered a second heart attack.

Lifesaving course

After the lecture, Ulrica Strömbäck held a course in cardiovascular rescue (CPR). 20 people suffer a heart failure every day and only 10 percent survive – when someone has started CPR in time. Of those affected and receiving help, as many as 90 percent return to normal life. Therefore, it is important that as many people as possible learn CPR. Today, half of Sweden's population is estimated to have undergone a CPR course.

Ulrica Strömbäck

Ulrica Strömbäck, Senior Lecturer

Phone: +46 (0)920 492543
Organisation: Nursing, Division of Nursing and Medical Technology, Department of Health Sciences