Victims less likely to survive a heart attack in hospital on the weekend

A new study has made some worrying revelations about people who have heart attacks.

It appears that people who have a cardiac arrest while in the hospital during the night or over the weekend are far less likely to survive it than if they had it during the day.

A cardiac arrest means the heart stops pumping blood throughout the body and without cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and often a shock from a defibrillator, patients can die within minutes.

The researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond examined data from the National Registry of Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation; this included survival data for more than 86,000 adults who had heart attacks in more than 500 U.S. hospitals between January 2000 and February 2007.

They found that during night and weekend cardiac arrests, only an average of 14.7% of victims survive, a number that goes up to 20% if cardiac arrest occurs during a week day.

Study author Dr. Mary Ann Peberdy, an associate professor of internal and emergency medicine, says hospitals simply don't work the same at night as they do during the day and the data suggests that this may be significant issue.

The researchers believe this worrying fact is directly related to inadequate staffing at hospitals during evening hours and over the weekend.

Dr. Peberdy says in such cases doing the right thing and doing it quickly is very important and the only part of a hospital with no difference in survival day or night was the emergency department.

Emergency departments are constantly staffed by senior-level physicians says Peberdy.

Dr. Peberdy says staffing plays a role in whether a patient survives a cardiac arrest and hospitals need to focus on improving their resuscitation systems in off-hours.

The study is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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