Study: Clot-sucking device cuts death rates for heart attacks

A new study suggests that a vacuum-cleaner-like device that sucks block clots out of the arteries of heart attack victims before angioplasty can have a dramatic effect on survival rates. In fact, the procedure can reduce the death rate in the following year by nearly half, according to the researchers. By physically removing the clots from the arteries,the device prevents loose fragments from breaking off and causing further damage. Cardiovascular surgeons in many large medical centers, such as Santa Monica-UCLA and Orthopaedic Hospital, have already started using the device successfully.

The device, which was developed by Medtronic, allows the cardiac surgeon to thread a thin wire guide into the body through the groin, all the way to the clot, then insert a tube and suck up as much of the clot as he or she can prior to an angioplasty. A New England Journal of Medicine study found that in the first full year after the device was used, 19 of the 535 patients who got the aspiration died, compared with 36 of the 536 who had an angioplasty alone.

To learn more about the study:
- read this Los Angeles Times article

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