When it comes to a heart attack, the difference between life and death may hinge on timing, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Researchers found a 5 percent higher chance of death — almost 2,000 more deaths a year — within 30 days of the heart attack if a person arrived at the hospital at night or on the weekend.
The Mayo Clinic examined the records 2 million heart attack patients from 42 studies.
What made the difference: The time it took from entering the hospital’s door to having a balloon procedure – in which a balloon is threaded into a blood vessel and inflated to restore flow in a clogged artery.
Researchers found that during “off hours” — described as late night, early morning and weekends — patients overall experienced close to a 15-minute longer wait to get the procedure than those who went to the ER during what’s considered regular business hours.
The doctors who worked on the Mayo Clinic report said a fix might be as simple as staffing.
“There are fewer staff and resources at night and on weekends — that’s true,” said Dr. Atsushi Sorita, the study’s lead author.
Of course, experts say, a person cannot choose when to have a heart attack, but they said the important factor in any heart attack is speed of treatment.
No matter when a person suspects a heart attack, cardiologists said not to wait and to call 911. They said to get to the hospital fast and in the meantime, chew an aspirin.