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Heart Attack Care Is Getting Better, Report Finds
Date:7/13/2010

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, July 12 (HealthDay News) -- Patients who have a heart attack and undergo procedures to open blocked arteries are getting proven treatments in U.S. hospitals faster and more safely than ever before, according to the results of a large-scale study.

Data on more than 131,000 heart attack patients treated at about 250 hospitals from January 2007 through June 2009 also showed that the patients themselves have become more aware of the signs of heart attack and are showing up at hospitals faster for help.

Lead researcher Dr. Matthew T. Roe, an associate professor of medicine at Duke University Medical Center and the Duke Clinical Research Institute, thinks a combination of improved treatment guidelines and the ability of hospitals to gather data on the quality of their care accounts for many of the improvements the researchers found.

"We are in an era of health care reform where we shouldn't be accepting inferior quality of care for any condition," Roe noted.

"Patients should be aware that we are trying to be on the leading edge of making rapid improvements in care and sustaining those," he added. "Patients should also be aware that the U.S. is on the leading front of cardiovascular care worldwide."

The report is published in the July 20 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Roe's team, using data from two large registry programs of the American College of Cardiology Foundation's National Cardiovascular Data Registry, found there were significant improvements in a number of areas in heart attack care:

  • An increase from 90.8 percent to 93.8 percent in the use of treatments to clear blocked blood vessels.
  • An increase from 64.5 percent to 88 percent in the number of patients given angioplasty within 90 minutes of arriving at the hospital.
  • An improvement from 89.6 percent to 92.3 percent in performance s
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