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Cleveland Clinic Protocol Reduces Heart Attack Death Rate

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Cleveland Clinic Protocol Reduces Heart Attack Death Rate

CLEVELAND — Every year, three million people suffer from a STEMI heart attack, a serious and sudden type of heart attack that requires immediate life-saving action.


What You Need To Know

  • Five years of data from the Cleveland Clinic support that a four-step standardized system reduced death rates among heart attack patients by 50%
  • Results show it also led to a 30% decrease in serious bleeding complications
  • The data shows that in women patients, death rates fell 59% and bleeding complications fell 29%

“There are different types of heart attacks. STEMI is what people think about. Sort of very dramatic heart attack, usually associated with very dramatic chest pain or shortness of breath, and it’s due to one of the main arteries to the heart being 100% blocked by a blood clot. So, this is something that’s very serious,” said Dr. Umesh Khot, the vice chair of Cardiovascular Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic.

Khot said he knew the hospital could provide more optimal care for heart attack patients.

In 2014, he and a team of physicians worked together to come up with a better system, and the results are impressive.

“We saw a 50% reduction in the risk of death,” Khot said. “So, they were much more likely to leave the hospital alive and then we also looked at serious complications which happens. We have to give blood thinners during these procedures, and so bleeding is also a serious complication, and we found that we reduced the risk of bleeding by 30%.”

They did it through a four-step standardized protocol.

“We still are doing the same basic thing in the sense of getting the person to the cath lab to open the artery, but the delivery system in which the patient is taken care of is now completely structured and standardized and so the variability of care that patients would have before has been removed and so now they get a consistent care process every time,” said Khot.

By doing that, the long-standing gender gap in care is starting to close.

Data shows that in women STEMI patients, death rates fell 59% and bleeding complications fell 29%.

“When women do have a heart attack, women tend to have a much higher risk of dying than men,” said Khot. “When you look at the process of care that women receive, they tend to receive less optimal care than men.”

The nationally-published results are gaining traction. Khot said hospitals around the country are now looking to adopt similar programs. The data is a collection of five years of work.

“In health care sometimes you do something which might last a year or two, but to do something that’s had a sustained impact for five years is quite dramatic, and I think we’re very proud of the sustainability of the program.” said Khot.

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