Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States today. Are doctors and health care providers giving patients the right treatment in the early stages of a heart attack? 

Reuters reports on the new information. Patients who might be having a heart attack should be told to take aspirin immediately, but about fifty percent of patients in the U.S. do not get this often life-saving treatment.

What do federal health guidelines say?

The national guidelines recommend giving aspirin to heart attack patients as soon as possible.

So, where does the problem come in?

Many find that emergency medical service (EMS) providers sometimes leave out this urgent step, according to researchers. Symptoms of a heart attack usually encompass pain or tightness in the chest, shortness of breath or pain in the upper body and/or shooting pain in your left arm.

How was the study conducted?

“Tataris and her colleagues write in the journal Emergency Medicine that people who take aspirin are 23 percent less likely to die from a heart attack and taking it early on is critical. The study team reviewed data from the 2011 National EMS Information System database. They focused on nearly 200,000 people under age 40 who reported chest pain to paramedics. Patients who had an electronic cardiogram or heart rate monitoring in the ambulance were included, while those with chest pain related to injuries were not,” according to Reuters.

What were the results?

Researchers found that paramedics gave aspirin to around 45 percent of patients. Surprisingly, Black, Asian and Hispanic patients were more likely than white patients to receive aspirin from the EMS health service officials. Patients living in the South were less likely to get aspirin than those residing in the East, West or North.

Those patients with government insurance such as Veteran’s healthcare were the least likely to get aspirin. However, this was not true for those who had Medicare or Medicaid. People who had insurance through an employer actually had the highest likelihood of getting aspirin. Age and gender did not affect the odds of getting aspirin at all.

The study’s author said,

“The study can't tell why paramedics failed to provide patients with aspirin. For instance, some patients might already be taking aspirin daily, or they might have a condition that prevents them from using it. Other patients might be more educated about the value of aspirin in case of heart attack or stroke, so some might already have taken aspirin before paramedics arrived.”

The authors of the study cannot tell why paramedics did not provide patients with aspirin.

For example, some patients might already be consuming aspirin daily, or they might have a condition that prevents them from utilizing it. Other patients may be more educated about the value of aspirin in case of a heart attack or stroke, so some might already have had aspirin before the paramedics came.

What protocol do health experts recommend?

“The American Heart Association recommends that people with symptoms of a heart attack should first call 9-1-1 and ask the responder if they should take aspirin. The responder can help determine if there is any reason the person should not take aspirin, such as an allergy. For most people, however, aspirin is a safe intervention, as only 2 to 3 percent of the general population has an intolerance to it, the researchers write,” according to Reuters.




Gerry Oginski
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