FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - Fewer than 70 percent of heart attack patients go to the hospital by ambulance, according to the National Cardiovascular Data Registry.
More than 30 percent drive themselves or have someone that they know drive them to the hospital.
Cardiologists at the Parkview Heart Institute say this is a dangerous trend that delays critical treatment.
Dr. Mark O'Shaughnessy with Parkview Physician's Group says it's always better to be safe than sorry. Even if patients aren't sure if they are actually experiencing a heart attack, he says calling 9-1-1 can provide a valuable assessment of the situation.
Dr. O'Shaughnessy says by riding in an ambulance to the hospital, EMTs can get medications and IVs started right away. "With today's technology, they can actually do an EKG in the field or in their home. They send that EKG to us and get us prepared for them coming, so our cath labs are ready. A heart attack is caused by a blood clot in a blood vessel, and so opening that vessel as quickly as possible is critically important."
Some patients complain of the cost accrued by calling an ambulance. Even though a single ride could cost more than $2,000, many insurance plans will cover all or part of the expense.
"You can't put a cost on somebody's life," says Dr. O'Shaughnessy. "If you are driving on the highway and you happen to have a sudden cardiac event, like your heart stops, and you crash your car, you could die and kill somebody else in the process. You can't put a cost on that. So, I think it's critically important that cost is a non-issue."
As a patient, unless going to the closest hospital is critical, EMTs will typically allow you to choose which hospital you prefer to be taken to.
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