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Early Restoration Of Blood Flow Following A Heart Attack Shown To Improve Long-Term Survival For Patients

DALLAS, April 28 -- Getting immediate vessel-opening treatment after a heart attack can help you live longer than previously believed, say researchers in a study published in today's Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

While it's well known that immediately restoring blood flow to the heart following a heart attack provides a short-term benefit, this study is the first to demonstrate that those with early restored blood flow show a significant statistical improvement in survival rates beyond the first 30 days following the heart attack.

The researchers acknowledge previous studies that showed that vessel-opening treatment is better than placebo up to 30 days following the treatment. "But beyond 30 days, the survival curves have been consistently parallel (the same) for the following 1 to 5 years indicating no further treatment advantage," the authors write.

Most people who die of a heart attack do so in the first 24 hours. Immediate restoration of blood flow to the heart after a heart attack -- a process called reperfusion -- is critically important to preserving the main pumping chamber of the heart. The researchers say their study provides evidence strengthening the need for early arrival at a hospital for treatment that can greatly improve chances for a good recovery.

"Successful early reperfusion provides patients with an advantage that continues to increase well beyond the first month after a heart attack," says lead author Allan M. Ross, M.D., director of the Cardiovascular Research Institute at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. "Although cost analysis was not a component of this study, the substantial additional later benefits should be taken into account in consideration of the cost-effectiveness of aggressive treatment strategies."

The researchers found that preserving the function of the left ventricle -- the heart's main pumping chamber -- through
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Contact: Brian Henry
brianh@amhrt.org
214-706-1135
American Heart Association
27-Apr-1998


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