BBC Home > BBC News > England

Fast track to heart specialists

22 September 08 11:47 GMT

A pioneering way of dealing with heart attack victims which health officials believe could save more lives has been introduced in Cambridgeshire.

Some patients will be taken directly to heart specialists at Papworth Hospital instead of local district hospitals.

The hospital expects to receive 250 patients in the first year from the Addenbrooke's, Hinchingbrooke and Peterborough hospital catchment areas.

The service is then set to be expanded to a wider area.

Patients suffering a specific type of heart attack will be taken directly to Papworth and undergo Primary Percutaneous Coronary Intervention treatment.

Diagnose patients

This is a process in which a balloon is inflated to relieve the blocked artery to the heart and a stent placed to keep the artery open.

The long-term outcome for patients is dramatically improved if they can have the procedure as soon as possible, Papworth said.

Dr Sarah Clarke, consultant cardiologist and clinical director of cardiac services at Papworth, said "If someone thinks that they have the symptoms of a heart attack they must call 999 for an ambulance as soon as possible.

"Paramedics will be able to diagnose a heart attack and take the patient to Papworth, if appropriate."

Paul Murray, coronary heart disease lead for the East of England Ambulance Service, said the service would replace the practice of paramedics giving clot-busting thrombolytic drugs.

Related BBC sites

*