- Proper treatment of a heart attack should be within 2 hours.
- A study reveals that the delay for medical treatment is 4 hours and up to 8 hours for patients whose symptoms appeared gradually.
It is very urgent! Symptoms of a heart attack always require prompt treatment. The instruction is even very precise: more than 2 hours after an attack, it is not only difficult to guarantee a good effect of the treatment, but above all, the risk of death is much higher.
However, a study conducted by the European Society of Cardiology and published on 12 September 2019 in the European Journal of Cardiology Nursing indicates that the time before treatment is sometimes much longer. Patients – especially those whose symptoms have developed gradually – can wait up to 8 hours for medical attention! As for those who developed symptoms suddenly, the delay was still 2.6 hours.
Progressive symptoms as severe as sudden symptoms
Sudden symptoms are characterized by sharp and intense pain, while progressive symptoms may only be mild discomfort that gets progressively worse. However, “both are a medical emergency and require very quick help “, recalls Dr. Sahereh Mirzaei, author of the study conducted at the University of Illinois at Chicago, who regrets that this work “show that gradual symptoms are not taken seriously”.
The analysis was performed on 474 patients admitted to the emergency room with an acute coronary symptom (myocardial infarction and unstable angina). Questionnaires were used to assess the characteristics of the symptoms as well as the time that elapsed between their appearance, the intervention of the emergency services and the time of the patient’s arrival at the emergency department.
The median interval between the first signs and arrival at the hospital is 4 hours
Analysis of the results shows that symptoms appeared suddenly in 56% of patients and gradually in 44% (women seek medical help earlier than men in acute pain) and that there is a median difference of 4 hours between the appearance of the first symptoms and arrival to the hospital. Only 45% of patients called an ambulance, while 52% chose to use their own means of transport to reach the hospital.
“The symptoms of acute coronary syndrome are not specific and their interpretation is often difficult. But chest pain is often a warning sign of a blocked artery. These pains should not be ignored as the symptoms can also include pain in the throat, neck, stomach and shoulder, often accompanied by nausea and cold sweats. In this situation, patients should immediately contact emergency services“, says Dr. Mirzaei.
Heart attack: the signs may appear after an intervention
Of the patients who participated in this study, 54% developed symptoms after exercise.
“Men with multiple risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, or a family history of heart disease should be aware that chest pain or discomfort after exercise may be a sign of a heart attack“, recalls Dr. Sahereh Mirzaei.