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Emergency treatment for heart attack improving but delays still occur
Date:9/19/2011

Despite improvements in treating heart attack patients needing emergency artery-opening procedures, delays still occur, particularly in transferring patients to hospitals that can perform the procedure, according to a study in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Fast response is critical for ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) patients. This severe heart attack is caused by a complete blockage of blood supply to the heart. More than 250,000 people suffer a STEMI each year.

But not all hospitals are equipped to perform artery-opening angioplasty only about 25 percent in the United States. Facilities that can't perform the procedure, also known as percutaneous coronary intervention, or PCI, typically refer and transfer patients to others that can.

"While we are making tremendous progress in PCI hospitals, delays are still occurring during the transfer process," said Timothy D. Henry, M.D., the study's senior author and director of research at the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis. "This is the first study that examines and identifies the specific reasons for delay of transfer patients."

Researchers examined data from 2,034 STEMI patients transferred from 31 local non-PCI hospitals in Minnesota and Wisconsin to the Minneapolis Heart Institute from March 2003 to December 2009. Referring hospitals were up to 210 miles away from the Institute.

Despite long-distance transfers, 65.7 percent of patients were treated within120 minutes from the time of presentation at the initial referring hospitals.

However, 34.2 percent of patients experienced a delay in total treatment time, and the study found delays most frequently occurred at the referral hospital (64 percent), followed by the PCI center (15.7 percent) and during transport (12.6 percent).

Specifically, the 64 percent of delays at the referral hospital were caused b
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Contact: Kristin Wincek
KWincek@mhif.org
612-863-0249
Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation
Source:Eurekalert

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