Health Team

UNC study looks at patients who have heart attacks while hospitalized

Posted November 24, 2014

More than a year ago, David Collins had a heart attack while in the hospital getting treatment for kidney cancer.

"It didn't really make any sense to me to start with. Why was I having a heart attack and I was in the hospital," he said.

Doctors found a complete artery blockage, which is known as a stemi.

Dr. George Stouffer, chief of cardiology for UNC Hospitals, and his colleagues examined stemi patient data from 303 California hospitals during a four-year period. They found 5 percent of heart attacks occurred inside hospitals in patients with non-heart-related problems.

"We found your chance of dying of a heart attack if you're inside the hospital is three times greater than if you're outside the hospital,” Stouffer said.

UNC cardiologist Dr. Prashant Kaul said the patients were generally older, sicker and more than three times likely to die.

Emergency treatment includes using medications and a balloon or stent to open the blocked artery.

The study appears in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medication Association.

"What we'd like to see is more studies done on process improvement to get these patients inside the hospital treated in a more rapid manner,” Stouffer said.

Collins, a busy farmer, is now back on the job and feeling much better.

"I'm glad that it happened the way it did because I had some blockages in other places. Now that I've got that fixed, I just feel better physically than I've felt in a long time,” he said.


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all