Fast Heart Attack Care Now the Norm in U.S. Hospitals: Study

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The speed of heart attack care at U.S. hospitals is faster than ever, researchers report.

More than 93 percent of heart attack patients had blocked arteries opened within the recommended 90 minutes of arrival at a hospital in 2014, and the average time was 59 minutes, the Associated Press reported.

In 2005, less than half of patients underwent the procedure, called angioplasty, within the recommended time and the average time was 96 minutes.

"Things have definitely improved," study leader Dr. Fred Masoudi, a University of Colorado cardiologist, told the AP.

The sooner blood flow to the heart is restored, the lower the risk of permanent damage.

A heart attack patient's risk of death rises 42 percent if angioplasty is delayed even half an hour beyond the recommended 90 minutes after arrival at a hospital, the researchers said.

In angioplasty, a tiny tube is inserted into a blood vessel in the groin or arm and guided to the blockage causing the heart attack. Doctors then inflate a balloon to open the artery and place a stent to keep the artery open.

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