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New Study Reveals Improved Time for Heart Attack Medical Attention

Good news for Americans with heart problems. A new study revealed that hospitals are now hitting their aim for prompt treatment of heart attack patients, ideally within the recommended 90-minute period from arrival. Back in 2005, hospitals averaged around 96 minutes in treating heart attack patients. But 2010 saw a big improvement—hospitals averaged 64 minutes.

Cardiologist Dr. Harlan Krumholz, who led the research, said, “Americans who have heart attacks can now be confident that they're going to be treated rapidly in virtually every hospital of the country.”

Dr. Krumholz also remarked that the swift medical attention occurred without the need for monetary incentives or threats of disciplinary sanctions.

Cardiologist and the study's co-author Dr. John Brush, of Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Virginia, also expressed his delight over the improvement, “It's amazing and it's very gratifying. I'm surprised that we were able to achieve that type of dramatic improvement.”

Most doctors consider angioplasty as the best remedy for clogged arteries. Guidelines state that the period between the patient's arrival at the hospital and the angioplasty procedure should be 90 minutes, at the most. Any delay could spell heart damage. The risk of death increases by 42 percent for each delay of 30 minutes.

In 2005, only 44 percent of heart attack patients had been treated on time. Remarkably, this figure improved to 91 percent in 2010.

“It's not an exaggeration to say that care of heart attacks in the United States has been transformed by this improvement,” Dr. Christopher Granger, a cardiologist from Duke University Medical Center, says. “We've made very important progress but there still is a lot of unfinished work in improving heart attack care.”

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