ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – A St. Louis cardiac surgeon says he has recognized that it may take some hospitals more time to perform lifesaving techniques depending on the time of day, but our region is working to minimize any discrepancies in quality of care.

A study published this month in the British Medical Journal revealed you’re more likely to die from a heart attack if it happens on the weekends or after hours. The study suggests that it’s not because nighttime attacks are more deadly — it’s that hospitals either have fewer staff members or they are less proficient.

Lead author Dr. Atsushi Sorita, a senior fellow in preventive medicine at the Mayo Clinic Rochester, and his team analyzed data from the United States, Canada and Europe.

They found that patients who showed up at the hospital during off hours were 5 percent more likely to die within 30 days of the heart attack than those who showed up during regular hours. That may not sound like a big number, but Sorita found it translates to about 3,800 deaths each year.

The study also found that once patients arrived at the hospital it took 15 minutes longer during those off hours to receive artery-clearing balloon angioplasty.

Dr. Michael Lim, chief of cardiology at Saint Louis University Hospital admits that “some hospitals do it better than others,” but he is working with a network of local hospitals with the goal of providing consistent 24-hour care.

“What we’ve done in this community is to bring together all of our hospitals who take care of heart attacks and strokes, and share these best practices,” he said.

With all the study in mind, Dr. Lim says don’t let the time of your chest pain dictate when to seek help — the best choice you can make, he says, is to get to the hospital as soon as possible.


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