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Angioplasty within 6 hours of clot-busting drugs cuts complications, study

Transferring heart attack patients to hospitals that do angioplasty within six hours of receiving clot-busting drugs reduces complications like repeat heart attacks, according to a new study from the Hospital.

Toronto, August 17, 2009

The cardiac team conducts an angioplasty The cardiac team conducts an angioplasty

Transferring heart attack patients to hospitals that do angioplasty within six hours of receiving clot-busting drugs reduces complications like repeat heart attacks, according to a new study.

“When treating patients with heart attacks, timing is everything,” said Dr. Shaun Goodman, the study's chairman and associate head of cardiology at St. Michael's Hospital. “A patient's chances of recovery are significantly improved if care is provided in a setting where angioplasty can be done soon after clot-busting therapy is given.”

The findings, published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine, suggest that early transfer of patients after receiving clot-busting drugs results in significantly better outcomes than the current traditional practice of transferring patients only when the clot-busting drugs fail.

The study –which is the largest randomized trial of its kind to date -- followed 1,059 heart attack patients who were treated with clot-busting drugs at community hospital emergency departments in Ontario, Manitoba and Quebec.

Angioplasty – which uses a combination of catheter-mounted balloons and stents to open a completely blocked coronary artery and restore blood flow to the heart – is accepted as the best initial treatment for heart attacks when performed within 90 minutes of hospital arrival.

The research was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and coordinated by the Canadian Heart Research Centre.

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