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Heart attack patients are getting angioplasties faster

August 22, 2011|By Amina Khan, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
  • John Pinnell, a cardiac technician at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica. Years ago, he suffered major chest pain and underwent an angioplasty just before Christmas.
John Pinnell, a cardiac technician at St. John's Hospital in Santa… (Ringo H.W. Chiu / For The…)

Heart attack patients are getting angioplasty treatments much faster than they did just five years ago, new research shows. Most heart attack patients who need the lifesaving procedure receive it within just 90 minutes of being admitted to the hospital, according to a study released Monday in the journal Circulation.

Yale researchers looked at the "door-to-balloon" times of more than 300,000 patients who underwent emergency angioplasty from January 2005 through September 2010. The door-to-balloon time is how long it takes to get the artery-opening angioplasty after the patient has entered the hospital.

Their findings were dramatic. In 2005, only 44% of patients received an angioplasty within 90 minutes. In 2010, that number had shot up to 91%. The paper also found that 70% of those patients were treated within 75 minutes, a far cry from the mere 27% treated in that time frame in 2005.

The authors say federal agencies and healthcare professionals nationwide worked to address the long wait times many heart-attack patients were enduring and thus helped bring about the improvements over the last half-decade.

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