It may be possible to predict who will survive or die as the result of a first heart attack.
Researchers analysed data from 18,497 people in two of the largest American cardiovascular studies and pinpointed certain traits that could predict the risk that a heart attack would be fatal. Those traits included having high blood pressure, being black and having a very high body mass index (BMI) - a measurement based on height and weight.
For some people, the first heart attack is more likely to be their last. For these people especially, it is important that ways are found to prevent that first heart attack from ever happening because their chances of living through it are not as good.
It was found that high blood pressure and a high heart rate were stronger predictors of sudden cardiac death than coronary heart disease. Extreme high or low BMI was predictive of high risk of sudden cardiac death, but not of coronary heart disease. Certain markers that can be identified by doctors evaluating patients' electrocardiograms (ECGs) are associated with high risk of sudden cardiac death.
If the findings are validated and confirmed in future research, it will be possible to identify patients who are at greater risk of dying if they suffer a heart attack and prescribe ways to reduce their risk.