In the Nick of Time

Angioplasty delivered within adequate time

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Heart attack patients with blocked arteries need treatment within 90 minutes. A new study shows that most are receiving it in the recommended amount of time as compared to five years ago.

About 91 percent of patients with myocardial infarction, a type of heart attack caused by complete blood supply blockage, are receiving angioplasty within 90 minutes. During angioplasty, physicians insert a balloon-tipped catheter into the heart vessel to restore blood flow to the heart.

"Know the closest hospital with a cardiac unit."

Dr. Harlan M. Krumholz, lead author of the study and Harold H. Hines, Jr. Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology and Public Health at Yale University School of Medicine, said that all medical facilities had to improve to see such a national report card increase. He called the improvement "remarkable," and credited medical professionals working together to best deliver patient care rapidly.

About 70 percent of heart attack patients received angioplasty within 75 minutes as compared to 27 percent five years ago. During the years studied, the median time from hospital admission to emergency angioplasty declined from 96 minutes to 64 minutes.

Investigators analyzed national hospital data collected by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The study included more than 300,000 patients who underwent emergency angioplasty between January 2005 and September 2010. It  included patients not covered by Medicare.

Dr. Krumholz said the progress occurred after a coordinated national effort to improve heart attack care through more rapid treatment. He cited several major initiatives that aided in improving heart attack care including Hospital Compare, part of The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ program to publicly report the percentage of patients treated within recommended times.

In addition he said initiatives by D2B Alliance, which advocated the adoption of key strategies shown to reduce delays, and Mission: Lifeline, launched in May 2007 by the American Heart Association to improve community-wide systems of care for patients with  myocardial infarction, aided the improvements.

The research was published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

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Review Date: 
August 22, 2011
Last Updated:
August 23, 2011