URGENT OR EMERGENT?
ANCHOR LEAD: WHEN DO FOLKS WITH A HEART PROBLEM NEED IMMEDIATE ATTENTION? ELIZABETH TRACEY REPORTS
Chest pain and other signs of an acute heart problem earn many people an immediate trip to the cardiac catheterization lab. But a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that for the majority of these folks, immediate attention on an emergent basis isn’t necessary. Rick Lange, professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins and an editorialist on the study, comments.
LANGE: We need to give the most intensive therapy to the individuals that are at highest risk of suffering a heart attack, and we now have good ways of predicting that, based upon their presentation, and their age, what their EKG and their blood tests show. Secondly all of these intensive therapies also have a risk of having complications, particularly bleeding. And we need to weigh that risk as well, and we can identify that. So the balance of the risk/benefit ratio determines the best therapy and how quickly it needs to be applied. :26
Lange says this is good news because it may avoid procedures on weekends or in less than optimal settings. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.