"This settles some of the concern that shorter times were not benefiting patients and makes clear that advances in quality of care in terms of timely treatment is very importantly linked with survival after heart attacks," says Harlan Krumholz. (Credit: Peat Bakke/Flickr)

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Faster ‘door-to-balloon’ time is critical for heart patients

New research suggests there is a medical benefit to reducing “door-to-balloon” time—how long it takes to treat emergency heart patients.

Door-to-balloon (D2B) refers to the tiny balloons inflated in patients to reopen blocked blood vessels. The new findings contradict previous research that claimed D2B times had no effect on patient outcome.

The key factor, researchers say, is that many more people are receiving emergency heart treatment than even a decade earlier—including patients with more complicated health issues that put them at higher risk for death.

“This settles some of the concern that shorter times were not benefiting patients and makes clear that advances in quality of care in terms of timely treatment is very importantly linked with survival after heart attacks,” says Harlan Krumholz, professor of medicine at Yale School of Medicine and senior author of the study, published online in the journal Lancet.

The study looked at National Cardiovascular Data Registry information from 150,116 primary percutaneous coronary interventions (pPCI) performed in 423 hospitals between 2005 and 2011. During that time, the number of pPCI procedures jumped 55.4 percent. The average D2B time dropped from 86 minutes to 63 minutes.

The first author of the paper is Brahmajee Nallamothu, an interventional cardiologist at the University of Michigan Health System.

Source: Yale University

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