Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Heart Disease Health Center

Font Size

Not Everyone Is Receiving Prompt Heart Attack Treatment

WebMD Health News

Dec. 9, 1999 (Atlanta) -- When it comes to receiving life-saving treatment for heart attacks, the elderly, African-Americans, and the poor often receive life-saving treatment later than others. The delays in receiving rapid care, says David C. Goff Jr., MD, are due to lack of education as well as demographic, cultural, and socioeconomic barriers. "Often it's lack of knowledge of symptoms or simply a lack of transportation," Goff tells WebMD.

Goff is an associate professor of public health sciences and internal medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, in Winston-Salem, NC. He is the lead author of a study appearing in the December issue of the American Heart Journal summarizing the results of a study designed to reduce patient delay in receiving life-saving medical care. In this study, researchers examined the medical records of nearly 4,000 patients hospitalized for evaluation of heart attack symptoms in 20 communities.

The average delay before reaching the hospital was two hours, with one-quarter of patients delaying more than five hours. "Delay time was longer among non-Hispanic blacks than among non-Hispanic whites, longer at older ages, longer among Medicaid-only recipients, and shorter among Medicare recipients than among privately insured patients, and shorter among patients who used an ambulance," writes Goff.

It has been shown in other studies that for heart attack victims, time is of the essence. Steven Borzak, MD, who wrote an editorial accompanying the article, points to another study which showed the importance of rapid treatment. "Mortality rate reduction was 51% in patients treated within one hour of symptom onset and fell progressively for each [additional] time interval," writes Borzak, who is with the Henry Ford Heart and Vascular Institute in Detroit.

In an interview with WebMD, Goff says the delays, by and large, are not attributable to age or race discrimination as might be suspected. "The issue is more complex then that," he tells WebMD. "I suppose if you want to look at the societal forces that cause people to have poor education, low income, lack of access to knowledge and access to health care, there are certainly social inequalities out there."

Today on WebMD

x-ray of human heart
A visual guide.
atrial fibrillation
Symptoms and causes.
heart rate graph
10 things to never do.
heart rate
Get the facts.
empty football helmet
red wine
eating blueberries
Simple Steps to Lower Cholesterol
Inside A Heart Attack
Omega 3 Sources
Salt Shockers
lowering blood pressure