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Early EKG Seems to Improve Odds After Heart Attack

Administration by paramedics shortens time to specialized treatment, study finds

MONDAY, Jan. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers report that people with chest pain who are given an electrocardiogram by paramedics before reaching the hospital don't wait as long to receive treatment to open their arteries.

They often were able to bypass the emergency room and go directly to the cardiac catheterization laboratory for treatment with what's commonly known as an angioplasty, the study found.

They were treated 60 minutes, on average, after reaching the hospital, compared with 91 minutes for people who did not have an EKG before arriving at the hospital. The findings were published in the January issue of Catheterization and Cardiovascular Interventions.

Research has shown that rapid angioplasty treatment reduces the chances of dying within the next year.

For the study, the researchers examined medical records for cardiac patients taken to three hospitals in Southeast Michigan from 2003 to 2008. When EKGs were done outside of a hospital, data were transmitted to the hospital before patients arrived so doctors could prepare.

Of those who did not have an EKG done before arrival, 2 percent (seven of 241 patients) died in the hospital. None of the 108 patients who were given pre-arrival EKGs died in the hospital, the study reported.

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more on EKGs.

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: Wiley-Blackwell, news release, Jan. 21, 2010

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