Page last updated at 12:41 GMT, Wednesday, 8 April 2009 13:41 UK

Heart patients get 24/7 service

A heart
Officials are confident the new system will save more lives

A Berkshire hospital has launched a round-the-clock service to treat heart attack patients.

Ambulance crews will now take patients with blocked arteries straight to Royal Berkshire Hospital's cardiac unit for an emergency angioplasty day or night.

It follows a successful pilot project, and patients will normally be treated within an hour of suffering symptoms of a heart attack.

Launched on 1 April, the service has so far successfully treated four patients.

Watch on screen

The procedure sees a catheter with a deflated balloon at its tip inserted into any blockage in the artery.

The balloon is then inflated, removing the blockage and restoring the flow of blood to the heart.

Patients undergo a local anaesthetic and remain conscious throughout - and can even watch the surgery on screen.

Being a lorry driver - smoking, drinking and eating all the things you shouldn't - you tend to get the pains
Martin Wood, patient

Doctor Charlie McKenna told the BBC: "Each artery in your body leads to your heart, so we usually access from the artery in the leg but we can do it from the arm.

"We take pictures of the arteries in the heart to see which one is blocked."

Martin Wood, 44, from Bracknell, was treated after experiencing chest pains.

He said: "Being a lorry driver - smoking, drinking and eating all the things you shouldn't - you tend to get the pains.

"But when I spoke to the doctor I was told I was having a heart attack... Charlie McKenna and his team were ready and waiting, they were marvellous."

A spokesman for the hospital trust said: "The hospital has been running the angioplasty service for a few months now during daytime hours and took the decision to make the service available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"The success rate for angioplasty surgery is very high, with over 90% success rate."



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SEE ALSO
Work begins on new cardiac unit
06 Apr 09 |  Wiltshire
New treatment for heart patients
21 Jan 09 |  Manchester

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