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Duration of Last Attack in 998 Fatal Cases of Coronary Artery Disease and its Relation to Possible Cardiac Resuscitation

Br Med J 1968; 3 doi: (Published 20 July 1968) Cite this as: Br Med J 1968;3:139
  1. R. H. McNeilly,
  2. John Pemberton


    All the deaths attributed to coronary artery disease and occurring in Belfast during one year were studied.

    The frequency distributions of the cases by interval of time between onset of the last attack and death are given for those not admitted to hospital, for those admitted to hospital, and for those already in hospital for some other cause of illness.

    Sixty per cent. of all the deaths occurred outside hospital. This indicates that the problem of cardiac resuscitation in coronary artery disease is to a considerable extent an extra-hospital one.

    Twenty-seven per cent. of the men and 22% of the women died within 15 minutes, but the median period of survival was 3 hours 30 minutes for men and 6 hours 18 minutes for women.

    The median time interval from the onset of the attack to sending for medical aid was 1 hour 17 minutes for men and 1 hour 6 minutes for women, and from summoning medical aid to sending for the ambulance 59 minutes for men and 1 hour 26 minutes for women. Ninety-six per cent. of the ambulance journeys to the patient were accomplished in less than 20 minutes.

    It was found among men, but not among women, that the duration of survival tended to be longer in older patients and in second or subsequent attacks.

    Of the 596 who did not gain admission to hospital 229 (23% of all the 998 patients) were known to have survived for more than half an hour after the onset of the fatal attack; 182 (18%) survived for more than one hour; and 143 (14%) survived for more than two hours. It is among these that there would appear to be special scope for the cardiac ambulance, providing that medical aid is sought and the ambulance is summoned without delay.