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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 August, 2004, 16:33 GMT 17:33 UK
Patient praises 'clot-buster' drug
Heart attack victim Robert Cutter
Robert Cutter says his recovery was helped by the drug
A heart attack survivor who was the first in Wales to get an anti-clotting drug from paramedics says the treatment was vital in his recovery.

Robert Cutter, 43, became the first patient to receive tenecteplase from an ambulance crew.

The drug was previously only available in hospitals, but ambulance crews in mid and west Wales have been trained to give the drug at the scene.

The scheme is being extended to other areas of Wales.

Paramedics involved in the mid and west Wales pilot scheme believe heart attack patients could have a 50% greater chance of survival if treated quickly with the drug.

I think it was absolutely vital that I had that drug
Heart patient Robert Cutter

Mr Cutter, of Tregaron, was treated by a crew from Lampeter on 9 July.

The crew were among 270 paramedics to undergo the 18 months' training required to use the medication.

Mr Cutter said: ""The paramedics put me on the ECG (electrocardiogram) machine and found I was possibly having a heart attack.

"They transferred me to the ambulance and decided to use a clot-busting drug.

'Reduced heart damage'

"Within minutes there was an improvement. As Aberystwyth hospital is up to 45 minutes away, I think it was absolutely vital that I had that drug.

"There is no doubt that drug made the difference and reduced the damage to my heart.

Paramedics (generic)
Paramedics have been trained to administer the drug at the scene

"(I was) able to recover more quickly and get on with my normal life."

In the past, paramedics have only been able to give a suspected heart attack patient oxygen and aspirin.

But Gerald Thomas, who gave Mr Cutter the drug, said it provided crews with a new option.

He added: "It was quite a responsibility, but I didn't really think about it at the time.

"I think it's good for the ambulance service as we are always first on the scene. Given this drug early enough, it can prolong life by up to 50%."

Biggest killer

The mid and west Wales scheme is now likely to be adopted in other areas of Wales, where heart disease remains the biggest killer.

According to the most recent statistics, 8,911 people in Wales died of heart disease in 2002 - more than from cancer or from other illnesses.

Crews in the Bridgend area have become the second to be trained in administering tenecteplase.

Richard Hook, clinical operations officer for the Welsh Ambulance Service, said the scheme was a step forward for cardiac patients.

He added: "The advantage of this system is that the drug is given at the patient's home at the time or very shortly after the patient has a heart attack.

"The drug is a clot-busting drug. If it is given early enough, it will dissolve the clot and allow blood back into the muscular part of the heart.

"The drug can save a lot of time that the person has to spend in hospital."

Coronary drug used for first time
12 Jul 04  |  South West Wales
Paramedics' heart drug go-ahead
06 Jul 04  |  Mid Wales
Heart attack victim praises drug
30 Jun 04  |  Leicestershire


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