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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 June, 2003, 14:04 GMT 15:04 UK
Heart attack care 'has improved'
Heart monitor
The report looked at how heart patients are cared for in hospital
Heart attack patients are receiving better care in NHS hospitals, an expert group has reported.

The second annual audit by specialists looked at how patients across England who had suffered a heart attack (myocardial infarction) were treated.

It found many hospitals were doing better when assessed against national targets than last year.

These changes should lead to further improvements in the delivery of lifesaving treatments to heart patients
Professor Sir Charles George, British Heart Foundation
National Service Framework targets for coronary care were set by the government in 2000.

The Myocardial Infarction National Audit Project (MINAP) report, published by the Royal College of Physicians, looked at several aspects of heart attack care:

  • Giving clot-busting drugs to patients within 20 minutes of being in hospital,
  • A maximum of 60 minutes between the initial call from the patient to the drugs being given, (call-to-needle time),
  • How much aspirin, beta blockers and statins, which can reduce the risk of another attack, are used.

Before the project started in 2000 very few hospitals were reaching the target for giving patients clot-busting, or thrombolytic, drugs, the report said.


Dr John Birkhead, who led the expert group, said: "There has been further improvement in the care of patients with heart attack.

"Hospitals have put in a huge amount of effort into improving services for patients with heart attack.

"This is reflected in the increasing number of hospitals achieving the NSF targets."

Dr Roger Boyle, the National Clinical Director for Heart Disease, said: "The proportions of heart attack patients receiving more rapid treatment within the nationally recommended timeframes have all more than doubled since publication of the National Service Framework for Coronary Heart Disease in 2000."

He added: "Also over 90% of these patients are now being discharged on effective drugs to prevent further heart attacks.

"This is very impressive and good news for patients."

Heart readings

Professor Sir Charles George, medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said: " "The report shows real improvements in the speed that lifesaving anti-clotting drugs are being delivered with nearly 50% of patients being treated within the new target 'door to needle time' of 20 minutes.

"The introduction of a new 'call to needle' target is also good.

"This is a practical measure that will monitor of the total time that it takes for the emergency services to collect a patient and to administer clot-busting drugs.

"New funds to give ambulances the equipment to send heart readings direct to the hospital before arrival will help the NHS reach this target.

"These changes should lead to further improvements in the delivery of lifesaving treatments to heart patients."

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