Heart Attacks Less Often Fatal Today

Jacobs said that primary care physicians could take a leading role in this. "Patients, particularly those at high risk for an event, and their physicians should discuss the warning signs of a heart attack and a plan for how, when and where to seek medical attention," she said.

Another way to improve heart attack survivability would be to place even more of an emphasis on prevention. Myerson said that could be accomplished by having health insurers step up to cover the cost of preventive measures such as nutritional counseling and gym memberships.

"I think the key to better reimbursement for these is to put them on a par with getting a prescription for medication," she said. "We should be able to write a prescription for nutritional counseling and it would be treated the same as any other prescription."

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more on heart attacks.

SOURCES: Merle Myerson, M.D., director, cardiovascular disease prevention program, St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital, New York City; Alice K. Jacobs, M.D., director, interventional cardiology, Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory, Boston Medical Center, Boston; Jan. 20, 2009, Circulation

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