According to a study by the Royal College of Physicians (UK), the state of emergency services with regard to heart diseases is very good.
The audit entitled Myocardial Infarction National Audit Project, and led by Dr Clive Weston reveals a fall in the percentage of people killed by heart attacks in England and Wales. This is down 12.4 percent from last year's figures, meaning 12 more survivors for every 1,000 heart attacks.
AdvertisementThe report states other facts such as that more patients are receiving emergency treatment within 60 minutes of suffering a heart attack, though there still exists a variation between hospitals. In England, 64 percent of patients were given "clot-busting" drugs within an hour of calling for help in 2006-07, as against 58 percent in 2005-06.
Says Dr. Clive Weston, associate director of the study: "Some hospitals do particularly well because nursing staff have sorted the whole thing out and the patient pathway is slick, while others have not done that."
The audit also shows the growing use of angioplasty, where a small balloon at the tip of a catheter tube is inserted via an artery and guided to the blocked heart artery. It leaves in place a stent - which pushes back the fatty deposits in the artery. In 2006-07, this was the main or first treatment for 3,192 patients in England and Wales, twice the previous year's figure.
According to the report, an increasing number of hospitals now provide primary angioplasty as an emergency treatment for heart attacks. Almost all ambulance services now have trained paramedics able to give clot-busting drugs before the patient reaches hospital.
Judy O'Sullivan, spokesperson for the British Heart Foundation offered the following statement: "While the data shows that the emergency services are making great progress, sadly it's often the person having the heart attack who continues to put their own life at risk. Far too many people doubt their symptoms, worrying that it may be a false alarm or they mistake the pain for a bad bout of indigestion."