Highlands & Islands

Highlands unit 'extends lives of heart patients'

A unit set up two years ago has extended the lives of heart attack patients in the north, according to NHS Highland.

The Inverness-based Coronary Care Unit (CCU) provides "clot buster" drug thrombolytic as part of its services.

One in four heart patients received the drug in 2009, but this has now risen to three out of every four.

NHS Highland said swift administration of thrombolytic could boost heart attack victims' life expectancy.

The drug is given by ambulance staff before the patient reaches hospital on advice from CCU.

A patient's heart reading is first transmitted by a paramedic to the unit using mobile technology for interpretation.

CCU staff then call the paramedic to tell them whether or not to administer thrombolytic.

Clinical ward manager Charlie Bloe, who leads the CCU at its base in Raigmore Hospital, praised the unit's staff and ambulance crews for their work over the past two years.

He said: "For every one minute delay in giving this drug a heart attack patient's life expectancy is reduced by 11 days. A half-hour delay can reduce your life expectancy by a year.

"It is vitally important that people who think they are having a heart attack seek immediate medical assistance.

"However, it is also important that when they do that we ensure they get their clot buster as quickly as possible."

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