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Also known as Enhanced Reperfusion and Primary Percutaneous Coronary Intervention, it is a technique where blood flow is restored to an organ or tissue that has had its blood supply cut off, as after a heart attack. Early reperfusion minimises the extent of heart muscle damage and preserves the pumping function of the heart.
Using a clot buster (also called thrombolysis) is effective with about two-thirds of patients who have suffered a heart attack (also called a myocardial infarction), Reperfusion using primary angioplasty and stenting provides better long-term results with less complications, especially in high-risk patients.
As has always been the case, a large proportion of heart attack patients will be taken to the nearest Accident and Emergency Department before admission to an inpatient ward – this will not change. However, not all heart attacks are the same – some patients suffer an attack because of a blocked artery and this service is purpose-designed for them.
Paramedics have the training and equipment that allows them to determine if a patient has a blocked artery. They can also confirm the diagnosis by phone with specialist coronary experts. When such a patient is identified, paramedics will immediately take the patient by ambulance direct to the Golden Jubilee National Hospital where they can receive the immediate attention of experts in dealing with these types of conditions.
The aim is to ensure that patients will reach specialist care within 90 minutes of suffering a heart attack – where this is not possible, paramedics will administer clot-busting drugs and keep the patient stable until the service is reached.
There is irrefutable clinical evidence that this approach means better long-term results and fewer complications for patients, particularly those who are at high-risk: