Myocardial Infarction Patients Receiving Treatment Faster
Myocardial infarction patients are getting help faster than ever before, a new report published by the American Heart Association says.
A five-year study of over 300,000 patients found that the average time it took for patients to receive an angioplasty (a procedure used to open a blocked or narrowed artery in the heart) dropped from 96 minutes in 2005 to 64 minutes in 2010.
During a myocardial infarction, the heart is unable to get the blood it needs to function because its vessels are blocked. Angioplasty opens the blood vessels, many times using a balloon passed through the narrowed locations, and, if the procedure is performed quickly enough, can keep the patient's heart from getting damaged by a lack of blood.
Harlan Krumholz, the study's lead author, said the results indicated "medicine in one of its finest moments."
"Five years ago, people believed it was impossible to get this done in under 90 minutes," said Krumholz, whose colleagues at Yale-New Haven Hospital performed an angioplasty in 16 minutes last week. "This study means that for any American who has a heart attack, you can feel confident that you're going to get the procedure you need quickly."
Krumholz chalked the improvement up to concerted efforts by doctors, hospitals, and federal government officials to better distribute information about how to accurately and efficiently perform angioplasties.