November 13, 2012

Research study backs primary angioplasty after heart attack

Elderly patient having a angioplasty scan Research we co-funded has backed primary angioplasty at dedicated heart centres as a vital part of heart attack treatment.

Scientists from Imperial College London did an analysis of treatment for heart attack patients from all over the UK. They looked at the effectiveness of different treatments that help reopen a blocked coronary artery during a heart attack.

A blocked coronary artery can be reopened by using clot-dissolving drugs or primary angioplasty, where the artery is reopened using a tube. Both these emergency treatments have saved many lives and reduced the amount of long lasting damage to the heart.

According to the researchers, some recent studies have questioned the effectiveness of primary angioplasty because clot-dissolving drugs seem to show similar benefits in patients after a heart attack. However, their study showed that the reason we see similar outcomes for patients on clot-dissolving drugs and angioplasty is statistical bias.

It’s vital that the UK continues to keep up with the latest in heart attack research and treatments

Hidden behind the numbers is the fact that doctors are sending the most urgent, at risk patients for angioplasty, some of whom are already showing signs of heart failure.

This means that primary angioplasty, often carried out at specialist heart units, is absolutely vital for heart patients, particularly those who are the most unwell.

Our Senior Cardiac Nurse Ellen Mason said: “At the moment, throughout the world there is a trend towards using primary angioplasty in more patients – the UK continues to follow this trend because of continued research showing better outcomes for patients and quicker discharge times.

"Heart attack centres are essential for providing 24 hour angioplasty, and it’s vital that the UK continues to keep up with the latest in heart attack research and treatments.”

The study was published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

Research we fund helps discover vital new tests and treatments for heart patients. But we couldn't do it without you support. Please donate to help fund our life-saving research.