TUESDAY, May 1, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Heart attack patients get their blocked heart arteries opened faster if they live in states where they can be taken directly to hospitals that perform the specialized procedure, a new study shows.
Not all hospitals can provide the treatment, called percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). So some states permit emergency medical responders to take heart attack patients directly to a hospital that offers PCI, even if that means bypassing hospitals that are closer.
In this study, researchers looked at more than 19,000 heart attack patients treated at 379 hospitals in 12 states between 2013 and 2014. Six of the states had hospital bypass policies.
In states with bypass policies, nearly 58 percent of patients received PCI within 90 minutes or less, and 82 percent underwent PCI within 120 minutes or less.
In states without bypass policies, the rates were 45 percent and 77 percent, respectively, according to the study published May 1 in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Interventions.
"Our findings provide a compelling case for state-level policies that allow emergency medical services to take patients directly to the PCI-capable centers," study author Dr. Jacqueline Green, a cardiologist at Piedmont Heart Institute in Fayetteville, Ga., said in a journal news release.
"A policy that improves access to timely care for even an additional 10 percent of patients could have a significant impact on a population level," she added.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more on PCI.