New research suggests that angioplasty is superior to clot-busting drugs in the treatment of acute heart attacks.
A heart attack occurs when one or more coronary arteries that feed the heart muscle becomes suddenly clogged and the heart muscle begins to die. Angioplasty is an invasive procedure in which cardiologists, guided by x-rays, open clogged coronary arteries by feeding a catheter to the heart from an artery in the groin.
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that angioplasty is superior to fibrinolytic therapy (clot-busting drugs), even if the patient has to be transferred to another hospital before initiating treatment.*
Researchers in Denmark randomly assigned more than 1,500 heart-attack patients to treatment with angioplasty or fibrinolytic therapy. They discontinued the study earlier than planned when it was determined that patients who received angioplasty fared much better, even if it took up to two hours to receive treatment.
The researchers found that patients who received angioplasty were 75% less likely to have another heart attack during the 30-day study period than those receiving fibrinolytic therapy, and were therefore less likely to die or suffer from a disabling stroke.
“A strategy for reperfusion involving the transfer of patients to an invasive-treatment center for primary angioplasty is superior to onsite fibrinolysis, provided that the transfer takes two hours or less,” the researchers concluded.
In an editorial accompanying the article, Alice K. Jacobs, MD, a cardiologist at the Boston University Medical Center, stressed the importance of recognizing heart-attack symptoms and immediately activating emergency medical systems when symptoms do occur.
“When available and performed by experienced operators at high-volume centers, primary percutaneous coronary intervention [angioplasty] saves 20 lives and results in 60 fewer events for every 1,000 patients treated,” wrote Jacobs. “This suggests that primary percutaneous coronary intervention is indeed worth the wait.”
Editor’s Note: In the Disease Prevention and Treatment protocol book, Life Extension has advocated angioplasty over fibrinolytic therapy for years. As stated above, recognizing heart-attack symptoms and immediately calling for an ambulance are the most important steps you can take in the event of a heart attack.