Thursday, October 29, 2009

Why Is There a Reduction in Heart Attack Deaths in United States?

When heart attack victims are admitted into hospitals, the doctors therein might have different alternatives to treat their patients. For example, they could use angioplasty to clear out clogged arteries, perform heart bypass surgery, or prescribe medications to lower the cholesterol levels, reduce clotting and regulate heart beat. As such, the success rate of treating these patients could vary widely among various hospitals.

According to a study that was published on August 18, 2009 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, there has been a noticeable reduction in heart attack deaths over the period between 1995 and 2006 as a result of clearer United States guidelines on how to treat elderly heart attack patients.

The researchers from the Yale University School of Medicine in Connecticut found a reduction of 3 percent in the number of patients who died within a month of having a heart attack after the introduction of clearer standards on treatments by Medicare.

Medicare is a social insurance program administrated by the United States government to provide health insurance coverage to people who are of 65 years old and above or who meet other special criteria.

In 1990, the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association published joint guidelines on which care was suitable and when. 2 years later, Medicare followed the guidelines.

The researchers studied the records of 2.7 million patients discharged from 4,000 hospitals after having heart attack between 1995 and 2006, and found that among Medicare beneficiaries, there was 1 additional patient survive at 30 days for every 33 patients admitted in 2006 compared with 1995.

The 30-day mortality rate decreased from 18.9 percent in 1995 to 16.1 percent in 2006, and in-hospital mortality decreased from 14.6 percent to 10.1 percent,

Meanwhile, they also discovered that a lot less variation in death rates among the hospitals. Such finding might support the argument that healthcare reform efforts should include more standardized guidelines on patients’ care.

The cause of the reduction has yet to be determined with certainty. Nevertheless, the finding of this study might have already reflected one thing: individuals and organizations dedicated to improving health care during the period begin to see some positive and encouraging results.

Back in 1995, 24 percent or more of heart attack patients died within a month after being treated at 39 hospitals.

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