NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


May 2, 2007

Increased use of angioplasty and the introduction of new drugs over the last seven years have nearly halved the number of hospitalized heart attack victims who die or suffer severe heart failure, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

According to the report's authors:

  • For every 1,000 patients hospitalized with heart conditions, there were 39 fewer deaths and 90 fewer patients with new heart failures compared with seven years ago.
  • In the United States, with as many as 5 million such patients each year, that would translate to nearly 200,000 fewer deaths if all hospitals were following the treatment guidelines.

In addition:

  • Death rates from severe heart attacks while in the hospital fell from 8.4 percent at the beginning of the study to 4.5 percent at the end and the risk of progressing to heart failure declined from 20 percent to 11 percent.
  • The rate of progression to a critical form of heart failure called cardiogenic shock declined from 7.1 percent to 4.7 percent; deaths in patients with milder heart attacks fell from 2.9 percent to 2 percent.
  • Among patients who suffered a severe heart attack, the risk of a subsequent stroke fell from 1.3 percent to 0.5 percent, while the risk of a second heart attack went from 4.8 percent to 2 percent.

Despite these gains, there is still room for improvement, says Dr. Kim Eagle of the University of Michigan Medical School, one of the co-authors of the study. He pointed out that only about 85 percent of patients received cholesterol-lowering statins, for example, although all should. He also noted that only 53 percent of severe heart attack patients received emergency angioplasty, even though it has been shown to save lives.

Source: Thomas H. Maugh II, "Heart attack deaths down sharply," Los Angeles Times, May 2, 2007; based upon: Keith A. A. Fox et al., "Decline in Rates of Death and Heart Failure in Acute Coronary Syndromes, 1999-2006," Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 297 No. 17, May 2, 2007.

For abstract:


Browse more articles on Health Issues