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    Heart Attacks Don't Sway Smokers

    'Unbelievable' Number of Heart Patients Still Smoke, Dutch Expert Finds

    Written Orders Often Ignored

    Some patients said their doctors put their orders in writing. They included 20% of the people who stopped smoking after heart hospitalization -- and 30% of persistent smokers.

    "We can't tell from our study why this is," says op Reimer.

    In Denial?

    Some patients may have mistakenly thought that anything short of a heart attack wasn't that threatening.

    Nothing could be further from the truth, the researchers note.

    For instance, the long-term risk of death after myocardial ischemia is "no better than that of patients who have had a heart attack," says op Reimer in the news release.

    "Perhaps this needs to be spelled out to them," she says.

    Doing Something Right

    Quitting smoking can be very tough. It can also be challenging to build other heart-friendly habits, such as upgrading diet and exercise.

    But those changes are possible. Just look at the participants who quit smoking after hospitalization.

    They beat persistent smokers at cutting intake of fat, salt, and calories while boosting physical exercise and consumption of fish and vegetables, the study shows.

    That's based on the patients' interviews. Those claims weren't confirmed.

    Major Motivation

    "Making lifestyle changes is a complex and difficult process from [a] psychological point of view, and evidence exists that only those who are really motivated succeed," the researchers write.

    "Indeed, our data demonstrated that patients who gave up smoking also took significantly more actions to improve their lifestyle otherwise than persistent smokers," they continue, noting that tackling more than one preventable risk factor at a time seemed to work best in their study.

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