Westmead Hospital in Western Sydney has indicated you can save lives by sending SMS reminders. Their doctors are now prompting heart attack survivors to exercise and go to the doctor for regular check-ups on their weight and cholesterol.
The increased risk for survivors
Heart attack survivors are at a far greater risk of having another heart attack, but not just that – they are at a greater risk of that attack being fatal. The probability of passing away from a heart attack increases exponentially the more previous attacks you have had. From a 1 in 10 chance of death during your first heart attack, the risk immediately jumps to a 1 in 5 chance for your second heart attack.
Studies have also proven that following an exercise regime and getting regular check-ups for weight and cholesterol levels are the most effective way of preventing another heart attack. Getting the body on track – and keeping it there – seems to be the way to make sure you get to stick around and spend more time with your loved ones.
Why the SMS reminders are so successful
Westmead Hospital ran a successful trial study together with the George Institute for Global Health, which involved 700 heart attack survivors treated through the hospital. Half of the group received reminders, and these patients were nearly 1.4 times more likely to exercise, 44% more likely to control their blood pressure, and 33% more likely to quit smoking.
Lead researcher on the study, Sydney cardiologist Clara Chow, said SMS reminders for heart attack survivors could save the lives of more than 1,880 Australians every year. According to the Heart Foundation, 54,000 people suffer a heart attack every year, and it is one of the most common causes of death in Australia. In 2013, 24 people died every day from a heart attack.
Dr Chow said heart attack patients typically have a short, stressful recovery period in hospital of just a few days, before having to go home and get back to “business as usual”.
She says the SMS reminders are useful for two reasons – they can help patients recall their doctor?s instructions about the lifestyle changes they need to make, and can also make patients feel supported, which is equally important. “It wasn?t just about what that message said, but the fact someone was supporting them.”
The study has been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association because it is such an important success. Westmead Hospital has a strong research program that enjoys an international reputation in various fields.
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