Simple test in the ambulance saves lives after heart attack, new study finds
15 April 2014
A new study from the University of Surrey, published today in the journal Heart, has identified a positive link between the survival of heart attack patients and the use of an electrocardiogram (ECG), by ambulance crews.
Researchers, funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), analysed data from almost half a million adults admitted with a heart attack to hospitals in England and Wales in the MINAP database, noting whether patients who came to hospital by ambulance had had an ECG test or not. The number of patients who died within 30 days of hospital admission was significantly lower when an ECG test had been carried out by ambulance crews. The study also revealed that a third of patients admitted to hospital with a heart attack are not having the test in the ambulance, with certain groups of patients, including women, the elderly and people from black and minority ethnic groups, less likely to have an ECG. A further important finding from this study was that having an ECG in the ambulance was also the strongest predictor of a patient receiving treatment to reopen a blocked coronary artery. The use of this treatment is proven to reduce heart damage and improve the survival of patients.