SINGAPORE: A study here has found that patients who encounter acute heart attacks are not calling for ambulances, resulting in a delay in receiving medical help.
The study, the findings of which
were published in the Internal Medicine Journal last year, surveyed 252
heart attack patients at the National University Hospital (NUH).
study found that only 35 per cent of these patients used emergency
medical services when presented with symptoms of a heart attack.
98 patients took their own transport to the hospital, while another 22
per cent sought assistance from their general practitioner (GP) first.
those who did not call for an ambulance, the period between the onset
of symptoms and receiving medical help was prolonged by an average of 82
minutes, according to the study.
National University Heart
Centre registrar Tan Li Ling, who led the study, said: "There is a need
to educate the public on the symptoms of a heart attack as patients
might not use the emergency medical service when they do not recognise
She added that greater awareness of the benefits
of using an ambulance was needed. For instance, in the case of a
life-threatening heart attack, paramedics and equipment like
defibrillators are on hand to provide prompt treatment on the spot, she
GPs TODAY spoke to said educating patients could be
challenging. For one, heart attack symptoms may not be easily
recognisable. Dr Kevin Chua of Drs Chua & Partners said: "The
symptoms of a heart attack vary and it is not clear cut. Hence, patients
might turn to their GP if they see the symptoms as something mild."
encounters patients suffering heart attacks once every few months and
refers them to the hospital after assessing their condition.
researchers said the tendency to brush off symptoms could be cultural,
as the findings are in line with overseas studies which have found that
Asian patients were more likely to not call for emergency medical help.
This may also be the case when it comes to older patients, they added.
The researchers noted some patients may assume they could reach the hospital faster in their own cars.
the study would have to be expanded to be more representative as it
involved a relatively healthy group of participants with a low mortality
rate and this was not an accurate reflection of NUH's heart attack
patients, they said. - TODAY
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