Hospitals are now treating more than 90 percent of the U.S. heart attack patients within their recommended 90 minutes of arrival, a new study released Monday in the journal Circulation said.
The American Heart Association's journal study shows that 91 percent of heart attack patients who needed angioplasty in 2010 were treated within the recommended 90-minute whereas in 2005, only 44 percent were treated.
Researchers analyzed data from more than 300,000 patients who underwent emergency angioplasty between January 2005 and October 2010.
Angioplasty opens blocked blood vessels using a balloon that is inflated. If an angioplasty is performed quickly it can prevent the heart from being damaged by a lack of blood.
Harlan Krumholz, the study's lead author, told ABC the progress shows medicine in one of its finest moments.
Five years ago, people believed it was impossible to get this done in less than 90 minutes, said Krumholz, whose colleagues at Yale-New Haven Hospital gave a patient an angioplasty in 16 minutes last week. This study means that for any American who has a heart attack, you can feel confident that you're going to get the procedure you need quickly.
The previous practice guideline says that patients should receive emergency angioplasty in less than 90 minutes after a heart attack.
The American Heart Association in 2006 and 2007 launched campaigns to lower the door-to-balloon times and to give the best care to heart attack patients. A few years ago, the door-to-balloon time was about 80 minutes but Mike Valentine, a cardiologist at Central Hospital in Lynchburg, Va., said that now patients with heart attacks get angioplasty done in about 43 minutes.
Our times are excellent, but we try to never be satisfied, Valentine told ABC. We're constantly trying to improve those times and get that care to our patients faster.
The improvement is the result of a nationwide drive by federal agencies, health care organizations and health care providers to improve heart attack care and outcome, Krumholz told U.S. News.