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Every second counts during a heart attack - experts

16 February 2018 09:18

Speed is everything in a heart attack situation

Speed is everything in a heart attack situation

The longer a high-risk heart attack patient waits between first contact with a medic and hospital treatment, the lower their chances of survival, new research suggests.

Every minute counts when it comes to treatment, according to heart experts, following a study of more than 12,500 patients over a 10-year period.

Delays have consequences

Scientists say that patients who have had part of their heart muscle die due to lack of blood supply, and who have a cardiogenic shock - when the heart suddenly cannot pump enough blood - are more likely to survive if they get balloon insertion treatment quickly.

The study, published in the European Heart Journal, looked at 12,675 patients who were taken to hospital by the emergency services and treated with PCI in Germany between 2006 and 2015.

In this group of patients, there were three more deaths for every 10-minute delay in getting percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) - where a balloon catheter is used to widen blocked arteries and restore blood flow to the heart.

Researchers said previous studies had mostly been focused on the time between a patient arriving at hospital and getting treatment, rather than from their first contact with a medical professional.

Speedy response essential

Head of the Department of Cardiology at St Bernward Hospital at Hildesheim Professor Karl Heinrich Scholz said speedier treatment could improve the end results for patients.

"The most important finding of our study is that Stemi patients presenting with cardiogenic shock are more likely to survive if they receive rapid percutaneous coronary intervention," he said.

"In this high-risk patient group, every 10-minute treatment delay was accompanied by 3.3 additional deaths, and this treatment delay-related increase in mortality was 10-fold higher as compared to Stemi patients presenting with more stable conditions.

"This means that, especially in shock patients and in patients with cardiac arrest, maximum efforts are necessary to optimise processes of care to shorten the time to treatment and improve their outcome."

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