Increase in invasive heart procedures improves survival rates

Health news

Rates of survival following the most common type of heart attack have risen due to the increased use of invasive cardiac treatments, a study by the University of Leeds has found.

More people are surviving an attack in which a coronary artery is partially blocked by a blood clot despite an increase in those suffering with co-existing conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure, the researchers said.

Invasive procedures include stenting, where the affected artery is widened using a mesh tube, and coronary artery bypass grafting, where a healthy artery is connected to the blocked coronary artery to create a new path for blood flow. 

“Whilst our research found that medications prescribed for the treatment of heart attack were important, it was the increased use of invasive coronary procedures that explained the better clinical outcomes,” said lead researcher, Dr Chris Gale, Associate Professor of Cardiovascular Health Sciences at the University of Leeds.

Dr Gale’s team used data from the UK National Heart Attack Register, MINAP, to analyse the 389,057 cases of non-ST elevation myocardial infarction (NSTEMI), the most common type of heart attack, in 247 hospitals in England and Wales between 1st January 2003 and 30th January 2013. 

The researchers found that the overall survival rates of people who had suffered an NSTEMI attack improved by an average of 3.2 per cent each year between 2003 and 2013.

This increase in survival occurred despite an increase in NSTEMI patients with comorbidities that increase the risk of early death.

Dr Gale said that, at the end of their study, about two in 10 patients with heart attack still did not receive an invasive coronary procedure. 

“Clearly, if all patients with NSTEMI receive the treatments outlined in the guidelines, it will further reduce premature death from heart attack,” he said.

“Attention now needs to turn to the systematic implementation of this new knowledge across international healthcare systems.”

The research was presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Rome and published simultaneously in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).  

The study relies on the accuracy of the UK Heart Attack Register which depends on clinicians and health care managers recording the care given. 

Professor Peter Weissberg, Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, which funded the research, said: “This study demonstrates the power of research on anonymised patient data to identify which interventions are having the greatest impact and how treatment can be improved. 

“Audits such as this are essential to ensure that evidence from research on how best to treat patients is being applied effectively across the UK. 

“The good news is that applying that evidence saves lives, the bad news is that not all hospitals are applying that evidence as rigorously as they should.”

To request an interview with Dr Chris Gale or for more information please call Sophie Freeman in the University of Leeds press office on 0113 343 8059 or email