Link Between Post-Heart Attack Pain and Long-Term Survival Found

Recent findings suggest a potential correlation between pain experienced a year after a heart attack and the patient’s long-term survival prospects. Notably, this isn’t limited to pain in the heart but any form of pain. The research sheds light on the potential of pain being a precursor to death within the subsequent eight years.

In a study published on Aug. 16 in the prestigious Journal of the American Heart Association, the researcher team meticulously analyzed a vast array of health data. The data, sourced from the comprehensive Swedish registry SWEDEHEART, comprised more than 18,300 adults who underwent heart attacks.

A concerning statistic from this research is that nearly 45% of these participants reported feelings of moderate to extreme pain a full year post their heart attacks. The implications of this pain were significant. Patients who experienced moderate levels of pain had a 35% greater risk of death from any cause over the span of the 8.5-year study. Alarmingly, those who suffered from extreme pain bore a risk more than double to die within this timeframe, especially when compared to their heart attack survivor counterparts who didn’t experience any pain.

Highlighting the chronic nature of this pain, about 65% of participants who felt pain during the two-month follow-up after the heart attack continued to experience it at their 12-month review.

Post a heart attack, recognizing pain stands crucial not just for immediate recovery but as an indication of future mortality risks. Severe pain can inadvertently become a barrier to critical rehabilitation measures and inhibit heart-beneficial activities like consistent exercise. Such physical inactivity inadvertently magnifies the risk

To ensure the well-being and longevity of patients, the study stresses the importance of proactive measures. For those battling post-heart attack pain, a concerted effort must be directed toward mitigating other risk factors like smoking, hypertension, and elevated cholesterol levels

The study, rigorous in its approach, relied on data gleaned from a two-month post-attack follow-up and a detailed questionnaire that patients filled out a year after their ordeal. The median age of the participating patients stood at 62. These individuals faced heart-related medical emergencies between the years 2005 and 2013. Women made up about 24.5% of this cohort.

The authors of the study make a strong case for the medical community to be vigilant. When prescribing treatment modalities and offering prognoses post a heart attack, it’s imperative for medical professionals to factor in whether patients are battling moderate or severe pain.

For heart attack survivors and their families, this research underlines the importance of ongoing pain management and monitoring, ensuring a more informed and holistic approach to post-attack care.


High Self‐Reported Levels of Pain 1 Year After a Myocardial Infarction Are Related to Long‐Term All‐Cause Mortality: A SWEDEHEART Study Including 18 376 Patients

Linda Vixner PT, PhD , Kristina Hambraeus MD, PhD , Björn Äng PT, PhD , and Lars Berglund PhD