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Quicker Angioplasty Times for Heart Attack Patients

Time to Treatment Has Dropped 32 Minutes in Just 5 Years, Study Finds

Heart Patients and Angioplasty: Study continued...

Every year, nearly 250,000 people in the U.S. have the type of heart attack that blocks part of the blood supply to the heart and requires angioplasty, according to the American Heart Association.

In 2010, 70% of the patients were treated in less than 75 minutes. In 2005, only 27% were.

A time window of 60 minutes may become the new standard, the researchers say.

This study did not look at the effect of the speedier treatment on death rates. However, Krumholz says other research, including his own, has found that treatment delays are linked with higher death rates.

Krumholz reports chairing a cardiac scientific advisory board for UnitedHealth.

Heart Patients and Angioplasty: Perspective

The study results show ''a substantial and meaningful reduction" in the treatment time window, says Shah of Cedars-Sinai. "It dropped by almost 32 minutes over a period of six years. That's very good."

The effort to do that is great, he says. It requires doctors and others from the emergency department and the cardiac lab to work together. An efficient system must be in place to activate the whole team quickly.

Heart Attack: Heeding the Symptoms

Patients can also improve their odds of getting prompt treatment by getting to the hospital as quickly as possible if they suspect a heart attack.

To do that, know the potential warning signs. According to the American Heart Association, these may include:

  • Discomfort in the chest. This can feel like a squeezing, fullness, pain, or pressure.
  • Discomfort in other upper body areas. These can include one or both arms, the back, the neck, stomach, or jaw.
  • Shortness of breath
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat
  • A feeling of nausea or lightheadedness

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