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If you're going to have a heart attack, Sweden is the place to do it

A major study has found that some 11,000 lives could have been saved if UK patients had received the same care as people in Sweden.

Image: Doctor via Shutterstock

THE CHANCE OF surviving a heart attack is far lower in the UK than in Sweden, according to a major new study published in a medical journal today.

The study, which looked at patients in the two countries over the period of 2004 and 2010, found that more than 11,000 lives could have been saved if UK patients had received the same care as people in Sweden.

The study looked at almost 400,000 patients from 242 hospitals in the UK alongside 120,000 patients from 86 hospitals in Sweden.

Thirty days after a heart attack, the death rates for UK patients were more than one third higher than for Swedish patients. And, while the difference in death rates decreased over time, mortality was always higher in the UK.

One of the lead researchers from University College London said the findings were a cause for concern.

“The uptake and use of new technologies and effective treatments recommended in guidelines has been far quicker in Sweden,” said Professor Harry Hemingway. “This has contributed to large differences in the management and outcomes of patients”.

The researchers accounted for variables such as risk factors (smoking and diabetes), the demographics of the people in the study, and the severity of the heart attack when estimating how many people could have been saved if they had been treated in Sweden.

The co-study leader Dr Tomas Jernberg from Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden said that the study found that the uptake of some medical procedures – such as balloon angioplasty  were far lower in the UK than Sweden.

Read: Test made in Longford can help docs spot if you’re having a heart attack >

Read: Stroke deaths last year below 2,000 for first time in years >

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