Heart attack treatment gives nine in ten patients best chance of survival

6 January 2016        

A man clutching his chest in pain as if he is having a heart attack. A woman stands by him, concerned, with her arms on his shoulders.

Our researchers found nearly all patients who have suffered a major heart attack are now receiving the most effective treatment.

A ten year research project at the University of Leeds has revealed that the use of a heart attack treatment, which drastically improves patient’s chances of survival, has rapidly increased.

Using medical records from across the NHS, researchers found a boost from 0.1 per cent in 2003 to 86 per cent in 2013, however they also discovered vast differences in the provision of treatment between hospitals in England.

What does treatment involve?

Emergency stenting treatment (PPCI), involves opening a blocked artery to restore blood flow to the oxygen-starved part of the heart and has helped save thousands of lives since becoming available in the early 2000s.

With differing standards of care being exposed across England, we believe that all heart attack centres should have the facilities and infrastructure to be able to deliver this routine treatment round the clock.

Emergency services also need to improve their ability to identify patients that have suffered a major heart attack, to ensure that no opportunities are missed.

Missed opportunities 

Dr Chris Gale, BHF-funded researcher of the School of Medicine at the University of Leeds, said: "Emergency stenting has revolutionised the way we now treat heart attack patients and our research highlighted just how far we have come over the past ten years, with the vast majority of patients now receiving the best care.

"However it’s clear that opportunities are being missed and in some cases treatment is simply not being offered.  This is unacceptable and undoubtedly lives are being lost as a result."

Our research led to treatment

Professor Peter Weissberg, Medical Director of the BHF, said: "BHF-funded researchers first showed that a heart attack is caused by a blood clot blocking a coronary artery and that the sooner the blockage is opened, the greater the chances of survival.

"It is a testament to the NHS and its investment through the National Service Framework for Coronary Heart Disease that today nine in ten people who suffer a major heart attack in the UK are treated by PPCI.  But clearly we need to do even better to guarantee all patients across the UK receive the best possible treatment.

"We need to ensure that the NHS provides enough, sufficiently resourced heart attack centres providing round the clock PPCI, to avoid needless loss of life."

Funding future research

We continue to fund research to improve heart attack diagnosis and treatment, including a study which could reduce complications from stenting. Research like this is only possible thanks to donations from the public. We receive no government funding for our research.

So we’re asking people to Wear it. Beat it. on Friday 5th February and help power life saving research by wearing red and holding your own fundraising event.

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