Weekday heart attack victims more likely to survive than weekend victims

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A study of heart attack patients in New Jersey finds that people who have heart attacks on weekends are slightly more likely to die in the hospital than those who arrived to the hospital on weekdays, researchers are reporting today in The New England Journal of Medicine.

The study analyzed 231,164 heart attack patients admitted to New Jersey hospitals from 1987 to 2002. Heart attack death rates over one three-year span, showed a 12.9 percent death rate for weekend patients and 12 percent for weekday patients, reported The New York Times.

From 1999 to 2002, 10 percent of weekday patients had angioplasty to open blocked arteries on the day they were admitted, compared with 6.7 percent of weekend patients. Angioplasty can stop attacks and save lives. Experts say the reason for the higher weekend death rate is because not enough expert medical staff members are available on weekends for prompt and aggressive treatment, reported the Times.

“It’s not just that there are fewer people around, but those who are around are often spread thinner,” said Dr. Donald A. Redelmeier, a professor of medicine at the University of Toronto, in the Times article. “The most skilled and savvy people don’t work weekends.”

For more (subscription required): http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/15/health/15heart.html?_r=1&ref=health&oref=slogin