China / Society

Heart attack victims let down by sub-standard first aid

By Shan Juan ( Updated: 2015-06-25 20:52

China has at least 500,000 new heart attack cases each year but first aid ability lags far behind that of industrialized countries, said a senior heart disease specialist.

An ideal time for treatment and angioplasty is within 12 hours after the attack thus "time is life in the case of heart attack first aid," said Nie Shaoping, director of the Emergency Intensive Care Unit at Beijing Anzhen Hospital, Capital Medical University.

In China it takes on average more than 120 minutes for a patient to be taken to hospital for treatment, 60 minutes slower than the average time in the West, he said.

France, where it only takes about 30 minutes on average, offers the fastest service.

The delay leads to many avoidable deaths in China, Nie said. Roughly 70 percent of patients die before arriving at a hospital and nearly 65 percent of deaths happen at home.

Nie said limited capacity in first aid was to blame.

Under the emergency medical system, it takes more than 20 minutes in Beijing for an ambulance to arrive while that takes 4 to 10 minutes in most Western countries.

A low awareness is a major culprit in China as many never link their symptoms to the possibility of a heart attack, he said.

Common symptoms include chest discomfort, shortness of breath, cold sweat, nausea, and lightheadedness, experts said.

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