HOUSTON -- Physicians at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center have added a twist to the door-to-balloon concept.
As part of a clinical trial being held in conjunction with Houston Fire Department paramedics, heart attack patients who meet certain criteria are given a clot-busting drug in the ambulance rather than at the hospital. The patients are then treated with an angioplasty to clear the blocked artery.
Administering the drug Retavase early may reduce mortality and heart damage by up to 50 percent, said Dr. Richard Smalling, professor of cardiology at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston, who is leading the study.
Smalling, who also serves as director of interventional cardiovascular medicine at Memorial Hermann Heart & Vascular Institute, is working to obtain funding to enroll additional Houston hospitals in the trial.
To qualify, patients must show certain heart attack symptoms and sign a consent form, which means they must be awake and responsive. So far, 326 people have received the treatment.