ANN ARBOR, Mich. Far more of todays heart attack patients receive emergency angioplasty treatment or clot-busting drugs to re-open their clogged heart arteries than even a decade ago, a new study finds.
But 10 percent of patients who could benefit from this urgent treatment which is known to save lives and prevent lasting damage to the heart muscle dont get it at all, the study shows.
And the chance of missing out on lifesaving emergency treatment was highest among those patients whose heart attack symptoms dont include typical symptoms like chest pain, those who didnt reach the hospital until six or more hours after the start of their attack, women, people over age 75, and non-white people.
The study, published in the American Journal of Medicine by a team led by cardiologists from the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center and the Yale University School of Medicine, is based on data from 238,291 patients who had had a type of heart attack for which this therapy is appropriate between 1994 and 2003.
Its the most current and comprehensive look at the use of emergency reperfusion a term that describes treatments that can break up blood clots and other blockages in the tiny blood vessels of the heart and restore blood flow to the heart muscle.
In the ten-year study period, the percentage of patients who could have received emergency reperfusion but didnt declined from more than 20 percent to 10 percent a notable achievement that the authors attribute to the increasing evidence of the benefit of emergency angioplasty, and the rise in the availability of the treatment at American hospitals and concerted national efforts to improve care.
The database used for the study, called the National Registry of Myocardial Infarction, includes detailed information about each patients condition that can be used to determine if they would meet the criteria to receive emergency angioplasty or treatment wi
Contact: Kara Gavin
University of Michigan Health System