Study Finds Heart Attack Survival May Depend on Quality of Care

Study Finds Heart Attack Survival May Depend on Quality of CareHow likely someone is to survive a heart attack may vary widely depending on the care that is given at different hospitals across the U.S., a new Yale University study suggests.

According to HealthDay, hospitals that strictly adhere to five strategies, which include strong teamwork and cardiologists that are always on-hand, have double the 30-day survival rates as hospitals who don't follow the guidelines.

However, less than 10 percent of the more than 500 healthcare providers included in the study follow even four of the five practices, the study leaders discovered.

"If we could implement all of the strategies across the nation, we would save thousands of lives annually," said lead researcher Elizabeth Bradley, a professor of public health at Yale. "Relatively simple strategies and a culture that focuses not on hiding problems but on finding and solving problems is the best medicine we can give ourselves."

Strategies include monthly meetings to review recent heart attack cases that feature input from doctors and paramedics, keeping cardiologists available 24/7, encouraging creative problem solving, specializing nursing duties and more cooperation among doctors and nurses.

The study found encouraging outside-of-the-box thinking and better teamwork between doctors and nurses seem to have the greatest effect, and reduce the number of deaths by 0.84 percent and 0,88 percent, respectively.

"These strategies are a mix of concrete processes and the overall culture of the hospital," Bradley said, adding that they are also "relatively inexpensive and do not require a lot of capital investment, but rather reflect how people work with each other."

In the study, which appeared in a May issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, the experts analyzed heart attacks that led to deaths in 537 hospitals from January 2008 to December 2009. The results showed fewer than 25 percent of hospitals committed to monthly meetings with paramedics who helped with heart attack victims, while only 14 percent had a cardiologist available at all times. Even though allowing a pharmacist to accompany doctors on medical rounds also improved the odds of survival, only 35 percent of hospitals employ the strategy.

According to the U.S. Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, heart attacks occur most often because of coronary heart disease, a condition in which plaque builds up inside the arteries of the heart. Without immediate, proper treatment, heart attacks can be deadly.