Over the last few years hospitals have made substantial improvements in getting heart attacks patients from the ER to the cath lab quickly so they can get emergency angioplasty in a timely fashion. In this procedure a cathether is threaded from the femoral artery into the heart to the site of the blockage. A balloon is inflated and a stent inserted to reopen the clogged coronary artery.
A study in The New England Journal of Medicine reports that despite a significant decrease in door to balloon times, heart attack patients have not reaped the expected survival advantage. Researchers are not clear what metrics would make more of a difference in reducing heart attack mortality. There is more information about this study here.
For those who do survive their heart attacks, the evidence has become even stronger that adopting a healthy lifestyle, such as a diet rich in vegetablesand a practice of regular exercise, will help people live longer. Last year we interviewed Steve Nissen, MD, chairman of the Robert and Suzanne Tomsich Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, about Keeping Your Heart Healthy. It is full of useful information for people working to keep their hearts healthy.