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AHCPR-Funded Study Finds Thrombolysis Saves as Many Lives as Angioplasty and Costs Less
Press Release Date: October 23, 1996
A new study reports that the use of primary coronary angioplasty
in the average community hospital does not reduce deaths more
than thrombolytic therapy, and furthermore, it produces
significantly higher costs over time. The finding, from a team of
researchers supported by a grant from the federal Agency for
Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR), appears in an article in
the October 24th issue of The New England Journal of
Heart attack is the leading killer of American men and women.
Many heart attack victims are treated with either primary
coronary angioplasty an invasive procedure to open occluded
coronary arteries or thrombolysis rapid application of
clot-busting drugs. Although a few small-scale clinical trials
that angioplasty is more beneficial, their findings have never
been replicated in the average community hospital, which is where
most Americans are taken when they have a heart attack.
After analyzing data on more than 3,000 heart attack patients
treated at 19 Seattle hospitals between 1988 and 1994, and for up
to three years after discharge, the research team found no
significant differences in short- or long-term mortality between
the two groups. They did find, however, that thrombolytic therapy
led to fewer tests and other procedures than primary coronary
angioplasty, and cost, on the average, $3,000 less per patient.
According to the researchers, nationwide cost savings could be
very significant, if applied to the nearly 200,000 patients
eligible for thrombolysis each year.
The study, "A Comparison of Thrombolytic Therapy with Primary
Coronary Angioplasty for Acute Myocardial Infarction," by Nathan
R. Every, M.D., and others, is from a major, 5-year
AHCPR-supported cardiac treatment research project now in its
year. The $4.8 million Cardiac Arrhythmia Patient Outcomes
Research Team project is led by Mark A. Hlatky, M.D., of Stanford
Editor's Note: The NEJM article is embargoed until October 23,
1996, 5:00 p.m. EDT. For more information on this study or on
AHCPR's other PORT projects, please call Howard Holland at (301) 427-1857, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.,
For more information, contact AHCPR Public Affairs: Howard Holland, (301) 427-1857.