Use of the aspiration technique is being expanded to other cardiac emergencies, Zijlstra said.
"We are currently enrolling patients in a trial that studies the role of aspiration in patients with non-ST elevation acute coronary syndromes," he said. "Results of a pilot study have been accepted for publication but are not yet publicly available."
Dr. Howard Cohen, director of cardiac intervention at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said the new study shows that "removing thrombus [blood clots] markedly improves short- and long-term outcomes." He added, "I use it all the time."
Some earlier studies showed conflicting results, Cohen said, but the new report clarifies the situation. "Based on this information, I think this will change the guidelines in terms of treatment of thrombus in acute myocardial infarction," he said.
Removing blood clot fragments from the heart blood vessel is important because "thrombus in an artery is a marker for poor outcome," Cohen said. "The nice thing about this technique is that it is very simple and widely applicable, and outcomes are significantly improved," he said.
Dr. Manesh R. Patel, an assistant professor of medicine in the division of cardiology at Duke University Medical Center, called the new findings "promising."
"I would expect a higher use of aspiration, but whether it will be in all patients, I'm not sure," he said.
At present, Duke cardiologists use aspiration in heart attack treatment when there is a completely blocked artery and "a large thrombus burden that is visible," Patel said. The newly reported results probably will expand the technique's use, he said.
Learn more about treatment of heart attacks from the American He
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