Experienced docs help heart attack victims survive better

February 19th, 2009 - 12:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Feb 19 (IANS) Heart attack victims have double the chances of survival especially if the hospital and their cardiologist have a strong track record in treating angioplasty and stenting, a new study has found.
The study focussed on the effect of physician and hospital experience on patients who were treated with primary percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). In this procedure, a heart attack is treated by inflating a tiny balloon that clears away a blood clot cutting off the blood supply to the heart.

Usually the interventional cardiologist also places an expandable metal mesh tube, or stent, inside the artery to prop it open. Today it is widely acknowledged that primary PCI is the safest and most effective treatment for heart attack - provided it can be accomplished quickly. As a result, many communities are establishing primary PCI programmes to provide rapid, local care.

The interaction between physician and hospital experience is critically important, particularly in the case of an unforeseen complication, said James Jollis, associate professor of medicine at Duke University in Durham.

“In most hospitals with angioplasty facilities, highly trained teams are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” Jollis said. “These teams are composed of interventional cardiologists, nurses and technicians who work in a coordinated fashion to rapidly open blocked arteries. When rare but severe complications arise, a team experienced in its recognition and treatment may be the difference between life and death.”

For the study, researchers analysed data from the New York State PCI registry, a database that all New York hospitals are required to participate in. The data came from 7,321 patients treated with primary PCI by 266 physicians at 41 medical centres between 2000 and 2002, said a Duke release.

The result was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

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