A new study suggests that transfer of patients to specialized hospitals to undergo angioplasty within six hours after receiving clot-busting drugs can significantly lower the risk of suffering life-threatening complications.
Angioplasty uses a combination of catheter-mounted balloons and stents to open a completely blocked coronary artery and restore blood flow to the heart.
It is accepted as the best initial treatment for heart attacks when performed within 90 minutes of arrival at a hospital.
The research team from St. Michael's Hospital and Southlake Regional Hospital
In the study involving 1,059 heart attack patients who were treated with clot-busting drugs, the team from St. Michael's Hospital and Southlake Regional Hospital revealed that early transfer of patients after clot-busting drugs are administered results in significantly better outcomes than the current traditional practice of transferring patients only when the clot-busting drugs fail.
"When treating patients with heart attacks, timing is everything, " said Dr. Shaun Goodman, the study's chairman and associate head of cardiology at St. Michael's Hospital.
"A patient's chances of recovery are significantly improved if care is provided in a setting where angioplasty can be done soon after clot-busting therapy is given," he added.
The study showed that 17 per cent of patients receiving standard care had serious cardiac complications within 30 days, compared with 11 per cent of those transferred immediately for angioplasty.
That represents a 36 per cent reduction in potentially life-threatening complications, including repeat heart attacks, with no difference in major bleeding complications.
The study is published in the New England Journal of Medicine.