Hospitals make big strides in delivering timely angioplasties

My lede:

American hospitals have dramatically improved their performance in providing timely heart attack care, according to a study published in the Dec. 15/22 Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Every minute counts when it comes to treating patients with ST-segment elevation acute myocardial infarction, or STEMI.

The sooner the patient’s blocked artery is opened with balloon angioplasty after arriving at the emergency department door, the better the chances of survival.

The “door-to-balloon” time should be 90 minutes or less, according to guidelines adopted in 2004 by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Assn. Yet as of mid-2005, only about half of U.S. patients with STEMI were getting angioplasties within that time frame.

By mid-2008, 831 American hospitals with primary percutaneous coronary intervention capabilities achieved a 90-minute door-to-balloon time for 75% of patients with STEMI, according to the new study.

The whole shebang.