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Many Patients With Heart Attack Delay Hospital Care
Date:11/8/2010

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Nov. 8 (HealthDay News) -- The time it takes for a patient to get to an emergency room when experiencing the symptoms of a heart attack have remained stubbornly high for the past decade, despite efforts to fix that, researchers report.

A new study in the Nov. 8 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine found that it took heart attack patients an average of 2.6 hours to get to the hospital after first noticing symptoms -- this despite education efforts to get people to call for help or leave for the hospital within five minutes of chest pain, jaw pain, shortness of breath or other symptoms.

Progress has been made in cutting system delays -- meaning what happens after a patient enters into medical care -- with "door-to-balloon" (such as angioplasty) times now well below 90 minutes, and sometimes as low as 50 or 60 minutes. Time is especially critical for patients with a type of heart attack called ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), which tends to be the more severe form of heart attack.

Previous research has shown that the time from onset of symptoms to arriving at the hospital for STEMI patients is about 114 minutes, or less than two hours, the study authors said.

The new study looked at non-STEMI patients.

"People have put in a lot of effort to reduce the time from the paramedic to getting to the hospital and into the cardiac cath [catheterization] lab where you open up the blocked vessels, and there's been great success with that," said Dr. Frederick Ling, director of the cardiac catheterization laboratory at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, N.Y. "The issue is that there really has to be a lot more focus now on the patient side, but the patient part of it is much harder to do."

Study lead author Dr. Henry H. Ting, an interventional cardiologist with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., said: "A heart a
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