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Coronary Heart Disease

From the Current Issue

New Research
EMS Brings Faster Care for Chest Pain

People with chest pain often take private transportation to the hospital in the belief that this approach will be faster than calling 911 and waiting for an Emergency Medical Services (EMS) ambulance. But quicker care comes through EMS, a new study shows.

The study involved 5,581 patients in 20 U.S. cities who had gone to a hospital emergency department with chest pain.

The results confirmed the common view that private transportation often gets a person to the emergency room faster than an ambulance. But the time difference is small and may not be clinically significant: Private transportation took 35 minutes compared with 39 minutes for EMS.

Further, because EMS personnel can initiate diagnosis and treatment on the scene, patients who called on EMS received initial care within six minutes, much less than those relying on private transportation who had to wait until they reached the hospital. Also, patients who used EMS got from the emergency room door to thrombolytic therapy faster than those who used private transportation (32 minutes vs. 49 minutes).

The study underscores the wisdom of relying on EMS for chest pain. Trying to outrace the ambulance can in fact delay treatment.

American Heart Journal
Volume 147, page 35
January 2004



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