Time of heart attack treatment is directly related to survival rateResearchers have suggested that the time which patients of heart attack reach the hospital may affect their likelihood of surviving. When the patient shows up at emergency room on weekends, at night or during holidays, this can increase their risk of dying by 13 percent compared to whether the patients arrived at the facility during the regular business hours.

Over 250000 people are diagnosed with ST- elevation myocardial infarction every year. This is essentially the most severe kind of heart attack that usually results from flow of blood to the heart being blocked completely. Restoration of the flow of blood in the quickest time possible by giving them clot busting medications or an angioplasty is performed to open the vessels that are blocked is of paramount importance in ensuring survival of these patients.

How the study was conducted

When the researchers were conducting the study, they analyzed treatment and rate of survival for over 27000 patients who had been diagnosed with this heart attack condition who had been taken to the healthcare facility after the regular business hours. A comparison was done between these patients and about 16000 others who had been taken ill at the hospital within business hours. The cases of heart attack had happened for the period from January 2007 to September 2010. These patients were treated at any of the 447 hospitals found in US.

Even though the time had no effect on when the patient had been given aspirin, received medication for clot busting or underwent imaging tests, patients who were taken to the hospital during the day got an angioplasty 16 minutes sooner on average compared to those who were taken at night time. During angioplasty, a tube or catheter having a deflated balloon on its tip is usually threaded to the heart. The flow of blood is then restored by inflating the balloon in the artery that is blocked. A stent which is essentially a mesh tube can also help in opening of the artery after being implanted.

The implication of time factor on heart attack patients

Those patients arriving at the ER on weekday on the regular hours of business wait an average of 56 minutes for the angioplasty while those who checked in on weekend, during holiday and at night had to wait for 72 minutes on average. According to the recommendations of AHA, patients having an ST elevation myocardial infarction should have an angioplasty in a period within 90 minutes. At night, the catheterization lab which is where the artery opening procedures and angioplasty are done is usually closed. If a heart attack patient is brought to the hospital at 1 am, emergency staff on duty usually activates the pagers. Specialist doctors then drive to the ER and start setting up the cath lab which of course takes time.