A study that analyzed data on nearly 22,000 patients complaining of chest pain suspected of cardiac origin showed emergency personnel can obtain an electrocardiogram in the field without increasing time at the scene or transport time to a hospital, the University of California San Diego announced Thursday.
Researchers from the UC San Diego School of Medicine, Rural/Metro Ambulance San Diego and the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department analyzed data collected by city paramedics over a five-year period.
Researchers also found that in patients diagnosed with an ST-elevation myocardial infarction — the most severe form of heart attack where the coronary artery is completely blocked — on the ECG prior to transport, care is expedited and they are more quickly taken to a hospital, university officials said.
“Prior to this study, questions remained as to whether the time required in the field to perform an ECG would lead to a delay in transporting patients to the hospital,” said Dr. Ehtisham Mahmud, the study’s senior author, professor of medicine and chief of cardiovascular medicine at the UC San Diego Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center.
“For patients suffering from the most severe form of heart attack, where a significant amount of the heart muscle is being damaged by the minute, time in the field and transport times were actually lowered.” Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death in the nation.
Drug therapies, interventional techniques and improved care systems have led to significantly improved outcomes for heart attack patients.
Pre-hospital ECG helps quickly diagnose a heart attack and enables faster medical therapy and preferential transport to a hospital that can provide an angioplasty, university officials said.
The study appeared in the Wednesday’s online version of the Journal of American College of Cardiology.