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Updated 12:30 PM February 14, 2007




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Faster heart attack care coming to Michigan hospitals

Michigan residents who suffer heart attacks will get faster treatment with the most effective emergency heart procedures under a new multi-hospital initiative being launched in Michigan. The speedier treatment should give them a better shot at survival and long-term health.

Representatives from more than 35 hospitals met recently in Ann Arbor to kick off a new statewide project coordinated by the Michigan Chapter of the American College of Cardiology and the U-M Cardiovascular Center, with support from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan/Blue Care Network. Their main goal is to reduce the time it takes to deliver heart-attack care—from the time a patient arrives at the emergency room to the minute when doctors inflate a tiny balloon to re-open the blocked arteries that cause most heart attacks.

"Every minute that can be saved is critical, because it keeps a bit of the patient's heart muscle from dying or being weakened by lack of oxygen, says Dr. Mauro Moscucci, who will help lead the project. "In other words, time is muscle."

"This is an example of a health plan, hospitals and doctors working together to make our state a national leader in improving the quality and efficiency of heart attack care," says Dr. Thomas Simmer, senior vice president and chief medical officer.

Studies have shown that patients who get angioplasty within 90 minutes of arriving at the hospital have the best chance of surviving, and lower chances of long-term effects from their heart attack. Because angioplasty is performed using a tiny balloon, experts often refer to the time leading up to treatment as "door to balloon time," or D2B time.

The Michigan project is part of the American College of Cardiology national campaign called "Door to Balloon: An Alliance for Quality." Many other health organizations, including The American Heart Association, are partners. The national and Michigan efforts are aim to get D2B time down to 90 minutes or less for at least 75 percent of patients experiencing the most common type of heart attack.

Michigan has a jump-start on the national effort because of previous statewide efforts to help hospitals improve other aspects of heart care, and D2B times. Under the BCBSM Cardiovascular Consortium (BMC2) led by Moscucci and Dr. David Share, of BCBSM, and coordinated by Registered Nurse Eva Kline-Rogers, 17 Michigan hospitals have been working to improve their angioplasty practices.

Last year, 12 of the BMC2 hospitals took part in a controlled pilot study that tested specific ways of shortening D2B time, and found progressive improvement. Michigan is already ahead of the national curve on D2B times, though its hospitals still have room for improvement. Current Medicare data show that 71 percent of Michigan heart attack patients get their angioplasty within 120 minutes of arrival—far better than the national average of 56 percent.

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