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Women wait longer for emergency heart treatment

NEW ORLEANS -- In a heart attack, the saying goes, "Time is muscle." The faster a person gets treated, the better his or her chances of survival and recovery.

But a new study finds that women who have heart attacks wait longer than men to receive an emergency procedure that can re-open clogged blood vessels and restore blood flow to the heart muscle. The study also finds that the longer any patient waits for this treatment, the higher his or her chances are of dying before leaving the hospital.

The procedure, called emergency angioplasty or percutaneous coronary intervention, has the biggest impact if it's performed within 90 minutes of a patient's arrival at the emergency room door.

But the study, based on records from 1,551 heart attack patients who had emergency angioplasty at hospitals in Michigan, shows women on average waited more than 118 minutes before treatment began, compared with 105 minutes for men.

Add to that the 20 extra minutes that it took for the average woman to reach the emergency room after her symptoms began, compared with men, and the result is half an hour more of wasted time and damaged heart muscle.

The results are being presented today at the annual Scientific Sessions of the American Heart Association by University of Michigan cardiologist Mauro Moscucci, M.D., who directs interventional cardiology at the U-M Cardiovascular Center. He will present the data on behalf of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Cardiovascular Consortium, a joint research effort designed to study and improve angioplasty care.

In all, patients of both sexes whose angioplasty began within 90 minutes of arrival at the hospital had a 50 percent lower risk of dying in the hospital than those who waited longer. Women were also more than twice as likely as men to die in the hospital. Even when the researchers corrected for the fact that the women in the study had more co-existing health problems,
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Contact: Kara Gavin
kegavin@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
9-Nov-2004


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