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Angioplasty should replace thrombolysis, says government

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Heart attacks should be treated by angioplasty rather than thrombolysis in the UK within the next three years, says the Department of Health.

Treating 97 per cent of myocardial infarctions with primary angioplasty (inflating a balloon inside the artery) would save an additional 240 lives each year and prevent 260 strokes, according to a report by the National Infarct Angioplasty Project.

Meeting this target would require 24-hour, seven-day cover in cardiac catheter laboratories, since primary angioplasty is only clinically and cost-effective if delivered within two hours of a call for help.

Most areas should be able to meet this target within the next three years, the report says, but in isolated places thrombolysis outside hospital should continue to be used.

Currently 71 per cent of heart attacks are treated by thrombolysis (clot busting drugs) within one hour of a call for help.

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