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Hearts Saved As Doctors Put Cutting Edge Discoveries to Use

r 2005 and were followed for up to six months after hospitalization. Besides the United States, they were recruited from hospitals in Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom.

The research showed that in 2005, 4.6 percent of the heart attack patients died in the hospital, compared with 8.4 percent in 1999. Heart failure developed in 11 percent of heart attack patients in 2005, versus nearly 20 percent in 1999. And just 2 percent had subsequent heart attacks in 2005, compared to 4.8 percent previously. Improved outcomes also were found in those with partial blockages, which include less severe heart attacks.

According to the researchers, these marked improvements are probably a "direct consequence" of new practices that follow updated guidelines from key organizations of heart doctors in the United States and Europe.

The study "is the first report of what's actually going on in the real world," says Dr. Joel Gore, a co-author and cardiologist at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center.

Recommendations in the guidelines include quick use of aspirin or more potent blood thinners; beta blockers to reduce the damaged heart's oxygen needs, statins to lower cholesterol, ACE inhibitors to relax blood vessels, and angioplasty to open blocked vessels soon after hospital arrival.

It was seen that use of each of these treatments climbed during the study and in some cases more than doubled. For example, 85 percent of heart patients studied got cholesterol drugs in 2005 versus just 37 percent in 1999, 78 percent got potent blood thinners including Plavix versus 30 percent in 1999, and 53 percent had quick angioplasty, compared to just 16 percent six years earlier.

The study is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Dr. Steven Nissen, former president of the American College of Cardiology and
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