The number of deaths from heart disease in Northern Ireland has halved in three decades.
The pace of scientific research helped dramatically reduce the level of fatalities to less than 2,000 in 2011, the British Heart Foundation said.
More people are surviving coronary attacks but an estimated 23,000 people are living with heart failure, with severe cases usually ending in death, the charity warned.
Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director, said: "It is pleasing that decades of British Heart Foundation-funded research has contributed to the dramatic fall in heart attack deaths over recent years.
"But this means that more and more people are surviving heart attacks with damaged hearts and there is now an urgent need to find ways of reversing that damage."
He said scientists were making great strides but success will require much more money and research to ensure momentum is not lost. In 2011 around 1,900 people died from coronary heart disease, 1,100 men and 800 women. In 1981 more than 4,900 people died from the condition, statistics from the charity showed.
Heart failure happens when so much heart muscle is damaged by the heart attack that it cannot pump blood around the body as well as it should. Three quarters of people with severe heart failure will not live beyond five years, the foundation said.
Eamond Teacy, 56, from Coleraine, had his first heart attack aged only 31. He has since suffered two further heart attacks and has been diagnosed with severe heart failure.
He said a year ago he became tired and short of breath.
"That is when I was diagnosed with severe heart failure and it felt as if my whole world had fallen in," he recalled. "I used to walk a lot and go to football matches but that is no longer possible for me and last year I had to give up my job. Heart failure has devastated my life. I try to hide it from the family but I know they worry all the time."