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Florida study finds barriers to angioplasty for life-threatening heart attacks
Date:10/8/2008

Tampa, FL (Oct. 8, 2008) Women, the elderly, and patients admitted to the emergency department on weekends are all less likely to receive same-day coronary angioplasty for a life-threatening heart attack in Florida, University of South Florida researchers found. Their study was published this month (Oct. 1) in the American Journal of Cardiology.

Angioplasty, also known as percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), uses a catheter-guided balloon to open a blocked artery and restore blood and oxygen to the heart. A stent is usually placed to hold open the artery. The procedure is the recommended treatment for the most serious and deadly of heart attacks known as ST-elevation myocardial infarctions or STEMIs, according to guidelines published by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association. Studies show that rapid access to PCI can reduce heart muscle damage, hasten recovery, improve survival and prevent long-term disability better than clot-busting drugs alone.

Elizabeth Pathak, PhD, and Joel Strom, MD, both of USF, examined same-day PCI rates in over 58,000 acute heart attack patients who were admitted to emergency rooms in more than 200 Florida hospitals from 2001 to 2005. The study included men and women ages 18 and older from the three largest ethnic groups in Florida: whites, blacks, and Hispanics. The researchers found that the use of same-day PCI for heart attack patients more than doubled -- from 20 percent to 40 percent -- during the study period. However, despite increased use of the clinically proven procedure, statewide most patients admitted to emergency rooms still did not receive same-day PCI by the end of 2005.

The researchers identified several barriers to treatment, including:

  • Some patients were admitted to hospitals that do not perform PCI.

  • At PCI-providing hospitals, patients ages 55 to 64, were on average about twice as likely to receive same-day PCI
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Contact: Anne DeLotto Baier
abaier@health.usf.edu
813-974-3300
University of South Florida Health
Source:Eurekalert

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