"A critical thing to recognize in a heart attack is that if we're able to open the blocked vessel within an hour, we've salvaged a heart muscle," said Biykem Bozkurt, the Mary and Gordon Cain Chair and Professor of Medicine and director of the Winters Center for Heart Failure Research at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM). "Thus, the patient's chance of survival is significantly improved."
Bozkurt and Christie Ballantyne, chief of atherosclerosis and vascular medicine and professor of medicine at BCM and director of the Center for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention at the Methodist DeBakey Heart and Vascular Center, are leading the trial at Houston's Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, one of four sites hosting the cardiac trial that will recruit 1,000 patients.
McDevitt noted that of 5 million visits to American emergency rooms each year for chest pain, approximately 80 percent are false alarms.
"We have patients clogging the ER system and delaying the recognition of true heart attack cases because we can't, in an expeditious manner, rule out false alarms that could have been diagnosed in the ambulance or the home setting," said Bozkurt, who also serves as cardiology section chief at the VA.
The potential cost savings for even a single patient are tremendous, said Vivian Ho, the James A. Baker III Institute Chair in Health Economics and a professor of economics at Rice.
"Treating patients in the emergency room is one of the highest costs we have in the health care system," Ho said, "particularly for heart attacks, because heart disease is the leading killer of Americans and it accounts for a large proportion of our health care costs.
"If we can identify these patients quickly so we can avoid aggressive diagnostic tests further on down the road -- for example, cardiac catheterizations and procedures that cost tens of thousands of dollars -- by instead using a relatively low-cost diagnost
|Contact: David Ruth|