Why Aren't Clot Killing Drugs Being Used?

In the late 1980s, I sued the U.S. government repeatedly for Tyndall Hospital's failure to properly diagnose chest pain patients, retired military men, in their late 40s and early 50s and to intervene to prevent fatal heart attacks days and weeks later. Their families and I changed the way chest pain patients were screened worldwide in the U.S. Air Force, and we saved thousands of lives.

Today, it is civilians like you and me, Joe and Donna, and Jim, who are at risk. Death occurs most often because of heart attack, stroke, and cancer. Heart attack is the number one threat. Heart attacks occur when blood clots form in the arteries that provide blood to the heart muscle. First, never delay when chest pain occurs. Call 911. Don't be embarrassed by calling. Yes, it could be indigestion, but it could also be a heart attack. Let the professionals figure that out. Time is critical.

Next, we have to ask if everything is being done from the moment a person is in the ambulance. Is it, or isn't it? Richard Smalling is an interventional cardiologist at University of Texas. He says the emergency medical tech first responders in ambulances are hugely important in preventing fatalities from heart attacks. In Houston, where he works, they are able to give IV clot busting drugs to people who are apparently having heart attacks while they are on their way to the hospital. Since it is crucial in saving heart muscle to administer these drugs quickly, they are saving lives before the patients ever arrive at the emergency room.

The window of opportunity for saving the heart muscle, believed some years ago to be 4-6 hours, now is known to be about 2 hours. According to Smalling, the difference is huge, something like 70% heart muscle death down to 20% if the drug is given rapidly. Are our Emergency Medical Technicians in our viewing area giving these drugs? If not, why not? Many lives might be saved?

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