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More than 90pc of heart attack victims benefit from fast treatment at pioneering centre

PUBLISHED: 17:12 09 April 2019 | UPDATED: 16:50 10 April 2019

The Norfolk Heart Attack Centre at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, consultant cardiologists Liam Hughes and Tim Gilbert, pictured in 2009. Photo: Antony Kelly

The Norfolk Heart Attack Centre at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, consultant cardiologists Liam Hughes and Tim Gilbert, pictured in 2009. Photo: Antony Kelly

© ARCHANT NORFOLK 2009

It was once a pioneering treatment which was hailed as revolutionary when brought to Norwich for heart attack patients.

Dr Tim Gilbert carries out an angioplasty at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital in 2009. Photo: ArchantDr Tim Gilbert carries out an angioplasty at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital in 2009. Photo: Archant

But now the vast majority of people arriving at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) receive angioplasty - a life-saving treatment a centre was opened specially for 10 years ago.

In April 2009 the Norfolk Heart Attack Centre, based at the NNUH, launched to provide 24/7 access to the artery clearing treatment, which had previously only been available for those with angina.

At the time this newspaper reported it was expected to halve the death rate from the most deadly kind of heart attacks and put the county on par with best standard treatment across the country.

Angioplasty restores blood flow to the heart by inflating a small balloon in the artery, through an artery in the arm or leg.

Dr Tony Page from the Norfolk Heart Trust. Picture: Simon ParkinDr Tony Page from the Norfolk Heart Trust. Picture: Simon Parkin

The money for the NNUH centre was raised through a public appeal and it was hoped it would halve the mortality rate from the most severe form of heart attack - a ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) - from 8pc to 4pc.

In 2007/08 no heart attack patients at the NNUH received angioplasty, with this increasing to just five in 2008/09.

But by 2010/11 402 patients - 92pc of those eligible - got angioplasty within 90 minutes of arriving at the hospital.

By 2016/2017 this was holding at roughly the same rate at 91pc.

Coverage from the opening of the Norfolk Heart Attack Centre in 2009. Photo: ArchantCoverage from the opening of the Norfolk Heart Attack Centre in 2009. Photo: Archant

The Norfolk Heart Trust raised more than £1m for the centre with it’s Balloons for Hearts campaign, and Dr Tony Page from the charity said previously patients faced long journeys for treatment.

Dr Page said: “We were very concerned people were having to travel a very long way to get procedures done at Papworth when we could very easily do it here, we had the expertise but not the equipment. One important thing was that was the time when primary angioplasty was getting going, this is when they were having their coronaries, and were being rushed into hospital. But it’s not good if you have to rush someone across to Papworth, by then it was too late.”

The gold standard is to treat a patient with angioplasty within 90 minutes.

And Dr Page said the treatment made a “massive difference” in the county.

“It made a huge difference for people’s recovery rate,” he said.

The charity has continued to raise millions for the NNUH cardiology department and is currently helping with equipment for the hospital’s new catheterisation laboratory.

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