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July 10, 2009

Heart Attack or Heart Failure

NEW ORLEANS - A new medical study paints a grim picture for heart-related health care in Louisiana when it comes to heart attack or heart failure.
The study examined data on heart attack and heart failure patients from about 600,000 hospitals nationwide.
Local cardiologist Dr. Robert Matheney said the study takes into account every step of care.
"From the time they leave their address to the time they get a balloon or stint procedure, to the time they discharge and whether or not they are re-admitted in the next 30 days," he said.
"Our facility, resources, how well we educate the patient, the doctor's response time, how well they're treated in the emergency room as well as monitored on the floor, all of that plays part," said Dr. Matheney, president of the Greater Southeast Affiliate Board of Directors for the American Heart Association and Chief of Staff at Ochsner Hospital-Westbank.
The Louisiana hospitals in the study rank among the lowest in the country, with deaths in about 25 percent of patients admitted for heart attack or failure.
But Dr. Matheney said there are some weaknesses in the study unique to Louisiana and New Orleans hospitals.
"The data started in July 2005 and 2008. That was a critical time we all know, right before Katrina," he said.
In light of residents already at high risk for obesity and heart disease in Louisiana, Dr. Matheney said patient responsibility is also a factor.
"If they are not having time to exercise, rest, return for doctor appointments, if they don't have insurance, if they are stressed out, all of that plays a part," he said.
However, this study focuses on how hospitals react and treat patients, and not the prevention methods.
Dr. Matheney says the poor performance by Louisiana hospitals likely involves the resources locally, and lack of, but does not accurately represent the efforts made, or what will be done to improve treatment in the state.
"It is basically coordination. From the emergency room, our communication with physicians and the cath lab and intensive care units, once we get that coordinated we will see tremendous improvement," he said.
The study only looks at patients 65-years and older, and does not include patients enrolled in managed care, considering only patients on medicare. Source: Health News
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