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Sucking Out Clot Debris Helps Heart Attack Patients
Date:6/5/2008

One-year death rate nearly halved in Dutch study

THURSDAY, June 5 (HealthDay News) -- Vacuuming out loose pieces of clots before artery-opening treatment of a heart attack reduced the one-year death rate by nearly half in a Dutch trial, a result that cardiologists said could change medical practice.

The latest data on the trial of a technique called thrombus aspiration showed that just 19 of 535 heart attack victims -- 3.6 percent -- given the treatment died within a year, compared to 36 deaths among the 536 people -- 6.7 percent -- given conventional treatment.

Death or a second heart attack occurred in 5.6 percent of the aspiration group and 9.9 percent of those given conventional treatment, the researchers reported.

"The point that thrombus aspiration has a role is definitely made," said study lead author Dr. Felix Zijlstra, head of the department of acute cardiology at the University Medical Centre Groningen.

"Nevertheless, we will continue to follow these patients for many years and define the predictors of long-term, five-year outcome," he added.

The findings are in the June 7 issue of The Lancet.

All 1,071 people in the trial were given emergency treatment called percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) for the kind of heart attack formally called ST-elevation myocardial infarction, a term that refers to the pattern traced out by an electrocardiogram. The usual treatment is insertion of a balloon-tipped catheter to reopen the blocked coronary artery. In this trial, a device was also used to suck out clot particles before insertion of the catheter.

Use of the technique is starting to spread, Zijlstra said. "Several companies report, in personal communications, increasing sales of aspiration devices," he said.

The technique is not difficult to master, Zijlstra said. "Experienced interventional cardiologists can easily implement thrombus aspiration in the
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