70% survive heart attacks, says BHF
Seven out of 10 people suffering heart attacks in Northern Ireland are surviving due to new treatments, a charity said.
Many were left with debilitating conditions including heart failure and angina during recent years, according to the British Heart Foundation (BHF). Almost half the 30,000 survivors were left feeling low or depressed afterwards, even many years after the event.
Researchers are using stem cells to grow new blood vessels, which could lead to new treatments to improve the blood supply to areas of the heart after damage by a heart attack, thereby preventing the development of heart failure, the charity said.
Researcher Dr David Grieve said: "If we succeed, we could help the hundreds of thousands living with the after effects of heart attack and other cardiovascular diseases."
There are around 4,500 heart attacks in Northern Ireland each year.
Starving the heart of blood irreversibly damages the heart muscle, which can lead to heart failure. For patients diagnosed with severe heart failure, the chances of surviving for more than five years are worse than many forms of cancer, the BHF said.
Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director at the BHF, said: "Largely because of BHF's investment in world leading research over the last 50 years, most people now survive a heart attack.
"But this doesn't mean the battle is won.
"There is currently no way to reverse the damage caused by a heart attack meaning hundreds of thousands of people are living with the devastating and often deadly effects of heart failure."