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Hospitals Improve Care for Heart Attack Patients

Study Also Shows a Decrease in Mortality Rates for Heart Attack Patients
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By Courtney Ware
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

July 12, 2010 -- Heart attack patients are receiving better, faster, and safer care when admitted to the hospital, according to data from the American College of Cardiology Foundation’s National Cardiovascular Data Registry (NCDR). 

Researchers observed an improvement in hospital care and a decrease in mortality rates for heart attack patients after analyzing registry data from January 2007 to June 2009. Improvements in care were also seen in patients with coronary artery disease who underwent urgent angioplasty and stenting. Patients needing angioplasty procedures, which unblock clogged coronary arteries, are receiving them quicker, with an overall decrease in the number of associated bleeding and blood vessel complications. 

Additionally, researchers found that doctors are using the medications recommended in American Heart Association guidelines for heart attack patients more frequently. 

There was also improvement in the timeliness of patients’ arrival to the hospital after experiencing heart attack symptoms, as well as the timeliness of patients receiving reperfusion therapy, also known as clot-buster therapy.

Better Heart Care

Researchers attribute these advances to the success of local, regional, and national initiatives in the community that focus on patient education and awareness of heart attack symptoms. Analysis of data also showed that more patients are receiving smoking cessation counseling, and doctors are referring more eligible patients for cardiac rehabilitation.

The registry -- actually a combination of two large-scale national clinical registries -- comprises data from more than 2,400 hospitals and more than 10.6 million patient records with the intent of helping hospitals and cardiologists improve their quality of patient care. The registries monitor hospital characteristics, rates of following guidelines, details of procedures, and in-hospital outcomes. Hospitals’ participation in the national registries is voluntary.

The study appears in the July issue of the Journal of theAmerican College of Cardiology.

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