Hospital Heart Attack Deaths Dropping
Researchers Say More Patients Are Getting Recommended Treatments
WebMD News Archive
May 1, 2007 -- Heart attack-related deaths following hospital admission have
declined dramatically over the past six years, thanks to new medical treatments
and better utilization of old ones.
That is the finding from a landmark study involving 44,372 heart attack
patients or patients with severe heart-related chest pain treated at 113
hospitals in 14 countries.
In-hospital heart attack death rates dropped by almost half, from 8.4%
during the last six months of 1999 to 4.6% during the same period in 2005,
among patients admitted to hospitals with severe heart attacks involving
complete artery blockage.
Heart failure rates also declined during the period, and outcomes six months
after the heart attack also greatly improved. Heart failure refers to a heart
with weakened pumping strength.
The findings prove that treatment guidelines are making a difference in
heart attack outcomes at the population level, University of Edinburgh
professor of cardiology Keith A. Fox, MBChB, tells WebMD.
"This is really a call to action to hospitals not meeting the standards
of reasonable treatment," Fox says. "We know these treatments work.
They save lives."
More Aggressive Treatment
Writing in the May 2 issue of TheJournal of the American Medical
Association, Fox and colleagues confirmed major increases in cardiac
catheterization and the utilization of heart- protecting drugs since the end of
Between mid-1999 and December 2005, the use of angioplasty to reopen blocked
arteries increased by more than 30% in patients with complete blockages and 20%
among patients with partial blockages.
During the same period, the use of aspirin, cholesterol-lowering statins,
clot-busting drugs, beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, and blood thinners also
"Hospitals and physicians are doing a better job through the hospital
stay, from admission to discharge, of using these evidence-based treatments
that have been shown to be of benefit," says researcher Kim A. Eagle,
But there is still plenty of room for improvement, especially in the U.S.,
which has been shown in some studies to lag behind parts of Europe in certain
aspects of heart attack care.
Many patients who could benefit from the most aggressive treatments still
aren't getting them, Eagle says.
Eagle -- the director of the cardiovascular center at the University of
Michigan -- notes that just over half of the heart attack patients with full
artery blockage in the study (53%) received emergency angioplasty and just 85%
received a statin in 2006.