-- Robert Preidt
TUESDAY, Jan. 21, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Heart attack patients
are more likely to die if they arrive at the hospital at night or
on a weekend, a large new review finds.
The report also said that this increased risk may result in
thousands of extra deaths among heart attack patients in the United
States every year.
Mayo Clinic researchers Dr. Henry Ting and colleagues analyzed
48 studies that included a total of nearly 1.9 million patients to
assess how arriving at hospitals during nights and weekends
affected heart attack patients' risk of death. The studies were
conducted in Canada, Europe and the United States.
The investigators concluded that heart attack patients who
arrived at a hospital during off-hours had a 5 percent higher risk
of death both while in the hospital and 30 days after discharge
than those who arrived during regular hours. This led to an extra
6,000 deaths every year in the United States alone, according to
the findings published Jan. 21 in the online edition of the
The Mayo Clinic team also estimated that for patients who had a
type of heart attack called "ST elevation myocardial infarction"
(STEMI) and arrived at the hospital during off-hours, a delay of
nearly 15 minutes between arrival and undergoing balloon
angioplasty to open a blocked coronary artery could increase death
risk by as much as 10 percent to 15 percent.
The researchers said further studies are needed to examine
factors that cause differences in levels of care during regular and
off-hours, such as number of staff and their level of
Although the review found an association between arriving at a
hospital during off-hours and a higher risk of death among heart
attack patients, it did not establish a cause-and-effect
Patients who arrive during off-hours "experience delays in
urgent care and worse outcomes, and the gap seems to be increasing
over time," University of Toronto doctors wrote in an accompanying
Hospitals seeking to improve their care of heart attack patients
"should focus on improving their off-hour care, with the goal of
providing consistently high-quality care 24 hours a day and seven
days a week," the doctors wrote.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more
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