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Coordinated Care System for Heart Attacks Improves Survival

A years-long project to coordinate heart attack care among North Carolina's hundreds of hospitals and emergency services has shortened response times and reduced the number of deaths.

That's according to a study out this week. One of its authors is Duke cardiologist James Jollis. He says one way the system reduced response times was by creating standard statewide practices for EMS workers.

James Jollis: If a paramedic could diagnose the heart attack, so they could do an electrocardiogram, talk to the patient, and were sure that they were having a myocardial infarction, instead of coming back in the hospital and having all that repeated, they would simply call a single phone number at whatever hospital it was they were going to, and call in the cardiologist right away to open the artery up.

Jollis says keeping treatment times under 90 minutes reduced mortality rates from 5.7% to 2.2%. Duke is now working to implement the coordinated system in 20 metropolitan areas across the country.

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