Study: Don't drive during heart attack

Oct. 27, 2008 at 6:33 AM

HAMILTON, Ontario, Oct. 27 (UPI) -- As many as 40 percent of people having major heart attacks in the Canadian city of Hamilton, Ontario, drove to hospitals, a city study found.

The study of 487 patients admitted to three hospitals in the city alarmed Dr. Madhu Natarajan, an interventional cardiologist and co-director of the cardiac catheterization labs at Hamilton Health Sciences, the Windsor Star reported.

Of the study subjects, 179 either drove themselves, had someone drive them or took the bus to the emergency department while they were having a heart attack, Natarajan said.

"They are committing a mistake with potentially grave consequences," he said.

Apart from the risk to other drivers should a victim lose consciousness behind the wheel, victims not assessed by ambulance crews wait longer for time-critical treatment on arrival, the doctor said.

Walk-in victims waited on average 5 minutes longer for an electrocardiogram and an average of 30 minutes longer before a clot-dissolving drug was administered, the study found.

Among those who chose to drive themselves or have someone else do it, most were male, younger and with no history of heart disease, Natarajan said.

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