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Choosing the right hospital after a heart attack can be the difference between life and death


Heart attack

(NaturalNews) Post-heart attack survival rates can be impacted by a number of different things, but a new study shows that even what hospital you choose can affect your overall outcome.

Research has revealed that Medicare patients admitted to hospitals with better track records of keeping patients alive for the first 30 days following a cardiac event can gain up to one whole additional year of life, following treatment.

Study author Dr. Emily Bucholz, a resident physician at Boston Children's Hospital, says that where you go to receive care truly can have a lasting impact. She commented, "It's not just about surviving that acute period. The benefits you accrue by being treated at a hospital that does really well will persist over your entire remaining life span."

To begin their study, the researchers examined approximately 120,000 heart attack patients covered by Medicare that were treated at one of 1,824 hospitals across the United States, between 1994 and 1996. Their analysis also included a 17-year follow-up period so the scientists could track how long the patients lived.

The hospitals featured in the study were ranked as either "high-performing" or "low-performing, based on their 30-day survival rates for heart attack patients, who had an average age of about 76.

What the research team uncovered was that patients treated at hospitals with better survival rates for those first 30 days also experienced an increase in life expectancy, compared to hospitals where more people die in the first month following a cardiac event. However, length of life and level of of care did not exhibit a cause-and-effect relationship during the study.

The average length of increased survival time amounted to somewhere between nine months and one year, according to the study authors. Dr. Bucholz expressed that one year is actually a substantial amount of time for older patients. She also commented, "From a policy level, investing in initiatives that improve short-term performance actually have long-term implications for patient outcomes."

While the study did not examine what aspects of care are actually playing a role in the creation of these better 30-day survival rates in-hospital, Dr. Bucholz contends that there are probably many different factors at play.

Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones, the Chair of Preventive Medicine for Chicago's Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, notes that whether hospitals are closely following the guidelines for treating a heart attack could be a key to understanding the differences in patient outcomes.

One thing is certainly clear though: choosing a better hospital doesn't just effect your health in the short-term; it can have lasting effects on your life. Lloyd-Jones commented that social, economic and ethnic differences in the communities served by hospitals can influence 30-day survival rates. But, he does also note that for this particular study, the researchers did their best to control for these kinds of differences. This means that the study shows that even without differences in these key areas, choosing the right hospital can make a difference.

"If you get off to a better start in those first 30 days by being treated at a high-performing hospital, these data suggest there's a persistent benefit."

There are many flaws within the mainstream medical care system; disparities such as this show that to be true. However, choosing a good, reputable hospital when necessary can help increase your chances.

Sources:

Health.com

News.Yale.edu

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