East London heart attack patients will be taken to specialist cardiac centres

Potential heart attack patients will be taken directly to specialist cardiac centres where they are more likely to survive, following a study by doctors at the London Chest Hospital.

They found that patients taken to a specialist cardiac centre directly or within 24 hours of showing signs of having a heart attack spend less time in hospital and are less likely to go on to have a further heart attack.

Doctors at the London Chest Hospital studied the treatment of 702 patients, all of whom had suffered a less severe heart attack, over a six month period. They found that the 311 patients who came directly to the hospital, a specialist cardiac centre, or were transferred from another hospital within 24 hours, did far better than the remainder whose transfer took longer.

They were up to 20 per cent less likely to be re-admitted and spent an average of just three days in hospital - six days fewer than patients who took longer to come to the cardiac centre. As well as significant health benefits, this also meant a saving of 1866 bed days.

On the basis of this and other data, a strategy for direct transfer of patients with high risk acute coronary syndrome is now being adopted across London.

Dr Ajay Jain of the Department of Cardiology at the London Chest Hospital, said: “This new and innovative service provided by the Heart Attack Centre at the London Chest Hospital will improve the care of patients who come to hospital showing early signs of a heart attack.

“As a result of a pan-London acute coronary working group agreement, London Ambulance Service will now bring patients directly to a specialist heart attack centre – no matter where in London they might fall ill.”

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In March 2012, retired professional footballer Fabrice Muamba suffered a cardiac arrest during a televised FA Cup match from which he recovered despite his heart having stopped for more than an hour. He was transported directly to the London Chest Hospital, bypassing three A&Es en route, which undoubtedly increased his chances of survival.