MONDAY, Aug. 22 (HealthDay News) -- More than 90 percent of U.S.
heart attack patients who required emergency angioplasty to open
blocked coronary arteries received the treatment within the
recommended time in 2010, a new study finds.
Just five years earlier, the rate was 44 percent.
Angioplasty -- in which a thin, balloon-tipped catheter is
inserted into the blocked blood vessel to restore blood flow --
needs to be performed as quickly as possible on these patients,
preferably within 90 minutes of hospital arrival, according to the
American Heart Association (AHA).
In this study, researchers analyzed data on more than 300,000
heart attack patients who underwent emergency angioplasty between
January of 2005 and October of 2010.
In 2010, 91 percent of the patients were treated within 90
minutes of arrival at the hospital, compared with 44 percent in
2005. Seventy percent of patients were treated within 75 minutes in
2010, compared with 27 percent in 2005.
The median time from hospital admission to emergency angioplasty
fell from 96 minutes to 64 minutes over the study period.
The findings are published Aug. 22 in the journal
The improvement is the result of a nationwide effort between
federal agencies, health care organizations and health care
providers to improve heart attack care and outcome, said study
author Dr. Harlan M. Krumholz, a professor of medicine and
epidemiology and public health at Yale University School of
"Everybody had to improve to get a national report card like this," Krumholz said in a news release. "This remarkable improvement demonstrates what we can achieve when we work together and is a tribute to the doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals that applied the information from the research studies about how best to deliver care to ensure that patients are treated rapidly."
One cardiologist said he was impressed by the report.
"This remarkable study shows a dramatic improvement in the delivery of high quality health care on a nationwide basis for a specific, very serious acute medical condition," said Dr. James Slater, director of the Cardiac Catheterization Lab at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. He noted that getting patients to care quickly is "a complicated process of opening the cardiac cath lab and coordinating swift and efficient interactions between the emergency room and interventional cardiology doctors and staff."
"The most important outcome of this study, although not specifically measured, is that these systematic improvements resulted in the lives of many thousands of Americans being saved, including a substantial number who will be able to return to productive activity," Slater added.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more