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Emergency Angioplasty Reduces Rate of Deaths by Heart Attack

A study of patients experiencing a heart attack showed that those who were treated with balloon angioplasty within 90 minutes after they arrived at the hospital had a higher rate of survival than those who waited more than 90 minutes to receive the procedure.

The study, conducted by researchers for the National Cardiovascular Data Registry, was based on 43,801 heart attack patients who had undergone balloon angioplasty within 12 hours after the onset of the attack. The average time patients waited before being treated was 83 minutes, with 58 % of the patients receiving treatment within the medically recommended 90-minute door-to-balloon time benchmark.

The overall death rate of patients in the study was 4.6%. The death rate for patients treated within 30 minutes was 3% as compared to 10.3% among patients who waited 270 minutes or more. The study also found that patients who waited longer to receive balloon angioplasty had more co-existing health problems, such as diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol, than patients who were treated sooner.

The study’s outcome concurs with the American Heart Association (AHA) finding that the timely delivery of appropriate treatments, such as angioplasty or thrombolysis, is a reason for the nationwide reduction of deaths caused by heart attack.

South Nassau Communities Hospital consistently achieves a door-to-balloon-time of less than 80 minutes, with 90% of its patients receiving angioplasty treatment within 90 minutes. As a result of its standard-setting treatment of heart attack, South Nassau earned the prestigious Silver Performance Award for coronary artery disease in 2008 from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With the Guidelines SM (GWTG) program, which measures hospitals’ compliance with best-practice clinical guidelines in cardiac and stroke patient care.

Additional factors cited by the AHA that have contributed to the decline include the establishment of guidelines for the treatment and prevention of heart attacks and improvements in medications and in technology.

South Nassau’s Center for Cardiovascular Health is built on the combination of advanced technologies, timely delivery of patient-centered treatments, and best practices. The Center is equipped with the latest advancements in cardiac digital imaging systems and performs a wide range of coronary and peripheral interventional procedures, including angioplasty, stenting, and thrombolytic therapy.

“We established the Center to meet the pressing need for advanced interventional cardiology services in Nassau County, where the impact of cardiovascular disease grows by the day,” said Jason Freeman, MD, FACC, director of interventional cardiology.

Lawrence Kanner, MD, FACC, director of electrophysiology and arrhythmia services, and the Center’s staff of electrophysiologists use advanced technologies to provide timely, accurate diagnoses and therapies to treat the range of cardiac arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms) and defibrillator complications. Services include diagnostic studies, implantation and testing of pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators, and radio-frequency catheter ablation for the treatment of potentially fatal irregular heartbeats.

Frank Pollaro, MD, FACC, director of cardiovascular imaging, and the Center’s cardiac imaging specialists are well-versed in nuclear cardiology (which generates images of the heart at work, during exercise, and at rest), echocardiogram via the trans-thoracic method (a non-invasive, highly accurate and quick assessment of the overall health of the heart in which a probe is placed on the chest wall of the patient to produce images of the heart), and transesophageal echocardiogram (which uses a specialized probe containing an ultrasound transducer at its tip that is passed into the esophagus and is used to provide clear views of areas of the heart that would be difficult to view transthoracically).

The Center’s cardiac imaging services also include stress echocardiogram (which involves exercising on a treadmill or stationary bicycle while the patient is monitored by technology using high-frequency sound waves that produces a graphic outline of the heart's movement, valves, and chambers) and diagnostic peripheral vascular ultrasound (noninvasive diagnostic technique used to evaluate the health of blood vessels) for patients with peripheral arterial disease.

“In the event you, a loved one or friend need expert, advanced, potentially life-saving cardiac care, you need look no further than your own neighborhood,” said Dr. Freeman. “Our team of experienced cardiologists and specially trained nursing staff use the most advanced techniques and medical technologies to treat life-threatening diseases of the heart 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”

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