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Trial Shows Heart Attack Education Makes Little Difference
Date:10/7/2009

But new study design might change response times, researcher says

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 7 (HealthDay News) -- A study to tell whether educating heart patients about the symptoms of heart attack would make them respond faster when one happens has produced negative results, but the researchers say a few changes in trial design might make a second look at the issue worthwhile.

The research included 3,522 people with known heart disease in six cities in the United States, Australia and New Zealand. Half were given lessons on the symptoms of a heart attack and what to do when they occurred -- essentially, get to a hospital quickly -- with a follow-up call a month later to be sure the lessons had been learned. The other half received standard medical care. Both groups were called every six months to check whether they had sought emergency heart care.

Among the 3,087 people who were followed for two years, 305 in the education group sought emergency care, compared to 260 in the no-education group. The average time from symptoms to hospital admission was virtually the same for the two groups -- 2.20 hours with education, 2.25 hours without education, the researchers found.

But there should have been a third group in the study, said Barbara J. Riegel, a professor of nursing at the University of Pennsylvania and a member of the consortium of nurses reporting the trial in the Oct. 6 online edition of Circulation.

That would be a group that received neither education nor follow-up phone calls, she said.

The follow-up phone calls made to people in the no-education group might have made them more aware of the need to seek emergency care, Riegel explained.

"The response times were actually pretty low," Riegel said of both groups. "The fact that we called frequently to collect data might have affected their responses."

And so another trial with a third group that is left alone entirely is n
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