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October 12, 2003
Longer Ambulance Ride Could Save Lives

If you are at risk of a heart attack, make sure you read this article -- and then make sure you know which of your local hospitals perform primary angioplasties.

[H]eart attack treatment has undergone a quiet revolution, one that ambulance services and small hospitals have largely ignored. Many heart specialists now agree that the clot-dissolving drugs are passe, or should be, and large hospitals have generally stopped using them. Instead, the best treatment is an emergency procedure called a primary angioplasty.

Even more reliably than clot drugs, it can stop a heart attack cold if done within the first two or three hours. But it is available only at major hospitals with top-tier cardiac centers.

So the little community hospital is no longer the ideal place to treat a heart attack, especially if it occurs within driving distance of an angioplasty center, as the vast majority do.

Nevertheless, specialists estimate that only about a third of heart attacks in the United States are treated with primary angioplasty. Most end up at hospitals that can't do them, and they aren't transferred to places that can.

Make sure you read the whole thing, and make sure your family members read it too.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 12, 2003 9:16 AM

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