Network could drastically improve heart attack survival rate

A POST heart attack program trialled across South Australia could greatly improve survival rates in rural Queensland and NSW, a report has found.

The Integrated Cardiac Support Network - a program which includes point of care testing for myocardial infaction, designated on-call consultant cardiologist with deadline of 10 minutes to respond with electrocardiogram results and transfer support from the Royal Flying Doctors Service - was trialled at 66 rural hospitals.

A research team led by Country Health SA Director of Cardiology Dr Phillip Tideman, found the program had significantly reduced the gap in the 30-day mortality rate between rural and metropolitan patients over nine years.

While the mortality rate at rural hospitals remained higher than metropolitan hospitals (where the average is about 8.92%), the ICCNet brought the rural rate down from 13.93% to 11.46%.

Despite the remaining gap, the report, which has been published in the Medical Journal of Australia, is optimistic about effectiveness of the program, not only in rural areas but also in developing countries worldwide.

"This analysis shows the effectiveness of a management paradigm that supported clinical decision making in primary care and improved the availability of cardiovascular technologies among rural patients," the report read

"(The results may) also has a resonance in the developing world where limitations in cardiac specialist capacity will necessitate more streamlined approaches to the management of cardiac emergencies."

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