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Each 10-minute delay in heart attack treatment costs three lives

Thursday 15th February 2018
Three heart attack patients lose their lives during every ten-minute delay in access to treatment, a new study has found. Image: johan63 via iStock
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New research has shown just how important every minute is when it comes to heart attack patients accessing medical treatment.

According to a new study from scientists at Germany's St Bernward Hospital at Hildesheim, every ten-minute delay in patients being able to receive the appropriate care following a heart attack results in three extra fatalities.

Over a ten-year period, the researchers monitored the care of 12,675 heart attack patients in Germany, finding that delays in percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) could prove fatal, as every moment counts at this stage.

PCI - which involves inserting a balloon catheter into blocked arteries to widen them and restore blood flow to the heart - therefore needs to be administered as soon as possible to patients to potentially save their lives.

It was found that for every ten-minute period in which one patient was kept waiting, an average of 3.3 other heart attack patients would die from their symptoms. This risk was ten times higher for those with ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction - also known as Stemi - compared to patients presenting at hospital in a more stable condition.

These findings therefore highlight just how important it is for staffing and resource issues within the NHS to be resolved as quickly as possible, as delays in accessing the right healthcare professionals or treatments could be costing patients their lives.

Commenting on the research - which is available in full in the European Heart Journal - Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said: "This new study clearly shows that every minute counts when it comes to treating heart attack patients.

"The quicker we can diagnose people and offer them interventions like PCI, the more lives that we will save. This is particularly true for those who are more seriously ill. It is absolutely vital that health systems review how heart attack patients are diagnosed and treated."

Written by Mathew Horton

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