Study shows good news for rural heart attack patients

Heart attack patients who are transferred from rural hospitals do as well as patients who go directly to Abbott Northwestern Hospital for treatment, according to a study published in the November issue of European Heart Journal.

The study’s objective was to see how well blood clot-busting drug therapy worked for patients who could not receive a balloon angioplasty procedure to open and repair clogged blood vessels within 90 minutes. Researchers analyzed the outcomes of 660 patients who were transferred from 31 regional hospitals and compared them with those of 600 patients who went directly to Abbott Northwestern in Minneapolis.

Several authors of the study include three local cardiologists—Dr. Timothy Dirks, Dr. James Madison and Dr. Peter Stokman—of the Minneapolis Heart Institute who treat patients at Riverwood Healthcare Center’s specialty clinic in Aitkin, and Dr. James Harris, medical director of Riverwood’s Emergency Services. The lead study report author is Dr. David Larson of the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation in Minneapolis. “With our current drug regimen, we have shown that patients right here in Aitkin County and other small rural communities can have absolutely the same outcomes as those who may live just down the street from a primary heart center like Abbott Northwestern,” Stokman explains. “This is great news for cardiac patients living in rural Minnesota.”

 The study was based on the Minneapolis Heart Institute’s Level One Heart Attack Program database of 2,634 patients who were treated at Abbott Northwestern from April 2003 through December 2009.Since 2004, Riverwood Healthcare Center has participated as a Level One Heart Attack Program Hospital, using specific treatment protocols to fast-track heart attack patients to Abbott Northwestern for immediate advanced cardiac care.For more information, see comments on the new heart attack study from Dr. Tim Dirks and Dr. Peter Stokman on the November 15th Lakeland Public TV newscast.

About the Minneapolis Heart Institute® at Abbott Northwestern Hospital
TheMinneapolis Heart Institute® is recognized internationally as one of the world’s leading providers of heart and vascular care. Abbott Northwestern, part of Allina Hospitals & Clinics, is the largest hospital in the Twin Cities and recognized nationally and locally for its exceptional expertise and care.

About the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation
The Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation is dedicated to creating a world without heart disease through groundbreaking clinical research and innovative education programs. MHIF’s mission is to promote and improve cardiovascular health, quality of life and longevity for all.   

Timing is critical in saving the life of a heart attack patient.  The average time from when a patient enters Riverwood’s ER in Aitkin to successfully opening the heart attack-causing blocked artery at Abbott Northwestern is 120 minutes.