Battle against heart disease

EAST Anglia is behind the national average for giving clot-busting drugs to heart attack sufferers.Between June and December last year, the number of patients given thrombolytic drugs in hospital within the so called 'golden hour' was up from 19% to 31% in June to December - the national average is 46%.

EAST Anglia is behind the national average for giving clot-busting drugs to heart attack sufferers.

Between June and December last year, the number of patients given thrombolytic drugs in hospital within the so called 'golden hour' was up from 19% to 31% in June to December - the national average is 46%.

The NHS in Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire is improving in meeting targets in the fight against coronary heart disease, according to a report by the Strategic Health Authority(SHA), but progress is hampered because of its rural environment.

Tony Jewell, clinical director for the Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire SHA said: "We still have a long way to go to improve the speed at which these drugs are given. But to some extent our region suffers from being a rural area.

"Its geography restricts our ability to respond quickly to emergency calls. Forty per cent of our population lives more than 15 minutes away from an accident and emergency department - which is quite significant.

"We have made real progress in cutting down the time it takes to administer these life-saving drugs once the patient gets to hospital.

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"We now need to look at the middle part of the 'golden hour'- the period in which paramedics reach the victim to when the patient is wheeled in through the hospital doors. It's important we make the most of that time, use it to our advantage and beat the constraints that geography places on us."

Between June and December of last year, the number of patients given thrombolysing drugs within 30 minutes of arrival at hospitals in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire went up from 63 per cent to 83 per cent. Health chiefs believe the figures show 'significant progress' in the speed with which heart attack victims are treated.

Called the 'golden hour' by health professionals, this critical window of time is measured from the point at which a person calls for an ambulance to when thrombolytic drugs are injected by a doctor in hospital.

According to the SHA's Health Atlas, which was published at the end of last year, coronary heart disease is the biggest killer of men in the region. Across Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire there were more than 3,000 deaths from the disease between 1999 and 2001 in men under the age of 75.

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