Heart Attack: Why You Should Act Early

Restoring blood flow soon after heart attack symptoms begin may reduce heart damage

(RxWiki News) New evidence suggests early care may help you survive a heart attack.

A new study from Mount Sinai School of Medicine found that patients who recognized the symptoms of heart attack and sought treatment early were less likely to experience heart damage than patients who didn't.

"Door-to-balloon" time is the time from when a heart attack patient arrives in the ER until a balloon procedure is performed to restore blood flow to the heart. According to the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, hospitals treating heart attack patients with this procedure should do so within 90 minutes or less of ER admission.

For this study, a team of researchers led by Roxana Mehran, MD, of Mount Sinai's Cardiovascular Institute, looked at the effects on heart muscle function of the time from symptom onset to treatment with this procedure.

To do so, the records of 2,056 patients from the Harmonizing Outcomes with Revascularization and Stents in Acute Myocardial Infarction (HORIZONS-AMI) trial were reviewed. These patients were divided into three categories based on symptom onset-to-treatment time.

Dr. Mehran and team found that heart attack patients who took between two and four hours (or longer) from the onset of symptoms to receive treatment to restore blood flow were less likely to have blood flow fully restored to the heart. These patients were also more likely to die within three years than patients treated sooner.

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, not all heart attacks begin with sudden chest pain. Symptoms can vary greatly from person to person.

The most common symptoms in both men and women include chest pain or discomfort, upper body discomfort, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and feeling unusually tired for no reason.

If you notice any of these symptoms, don't ignore them. Call 9-1-1 right away.

This study was published Dec. 28 in the journal JACC: Cardiovascular Interventions.

Information on funding sources and conflicts of interest was not available at the time of publication.

Review Date: 
December 29, 2015