1:06pm

Fri November 2, 2012
Health and Welfare

Kentucky Ranks High in Heart Attack Deaths

Because cardiovascular disease kills more Kentuckians than anything else, and because what mostly kills them is a heart attack, and because if you can get help within 90 minutes of that heart attack your chances improve dramatically, this state needs a vastly improved way to get heart attack patients to the right hospital in a short amount of time.

So explains Dr. William Dillon, an interventional cardiologist in Louisville, who writes an guest column in the In The Prime health blog of The Courier-Journal. He punctuates his point with a graph, right, that shows that Kentucky now ranks 49th of 50 states in acute myocardial infarction (AMI) deaths. AMI is doctor-speak for heart attacks. (American Heart Association graph)

Dillon's medically reasoned plea is for a more systematic regional network -- like one that have saved lives in North Carolina -- is "to transfer AMI patients to dedicated (heart catheterization lab) centers throughout the state." But Dillon also knows that many Kentuckians are not listening to their bodies as closely as they might. He writes that "another source of delay in AMI treatment is that, on average, patients wait more than 90 minutes before seeking medical attention. Furthermore, 50 percent of AMI patients drive to a hospital or clinic without calling EMS. Every year, a significant number of these patients needlessly die en route to the hospital." He adds then that health education -- in this case, early notification of needing EMS help -- is an important component in saving Kentuckians' lives. (Read more)