Night, Weekend Heart

Patients Face Delays

Heart attack patients who go to hospitals at night and on weekends wait longer for artery-clearing angioplasty treatment than those who show up during regular hours, increasing their risk of dying.

After-hours patients waited an average of one hour and 56 minutes for what is considered the best treatment for heart attacks in most cases, compared with one hour and 35 minutes during regular business hours.

Current guidelines recommend that patients wait no longer than 90 minutes from the time they enter the emergency room. Four in 10 patients waited more than two hours for a balloon angioplasty, according to the study of 68,000 patients in today's Journal of the American Medical Association.

Delays raised the risk of death by about 7 percent.

Two-thirds of heart attack patients arrive at hospitals on nights and weekends, noted study co-author Harlan Krumholz of Yale University School of Medicine.

Johnson & Johnson

Stent Cited as Best

Studies published in two major medical journals yesterday suggest that Johnson & Johnson's heart stent works better than a rival device by Boston Scientific Corp. at keeping blood flowing through diseased heart arteries.

While the studies gave the nod to the Johnson & Johnson device's efficacy, doctors noted that the company continues to struggle with manufacturing constraints that limit the stent's availability.

In a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers sifted through a raft of data from six clinical trials involving 3,669 patients pitting Johnson & Johnson's Cypher stent, coated with the drug sirolimus, against Boston Scientific's Taxus device, which gives off the drug paclitaxel.

The drugs help prevent the tiny wire mesh tubes from clogging again after insertion into an artery.

The study concluded that Johnson & Johnson's device was superior at preventing the buildup of scar that frequently sends patients back for a repeat procedure. The risk of death and heart attack was about the same with both.

A pair of studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that Johnson & Johnson's device tends to remain clearer longer than the rival brand.

Cosmonaut Breaks

Time-in-Space Record

Sergei Krikalev logged his 749th day in orbit on the international space station yesterday, breaking fellow cosmonaut Sergei Avdeyev's record for the most time spent in space, NASA said.

Krikalev, 46, arrived at the outpost in April for a six-month stay with NASA astronaut John Phillips for his second trip to the station. Krikalev first flew into space in November 1988 on a mission to the Mir space station and was the first cosmonaut to ride on the space shuttle.

Krikalev broke the record as he and Phillips prepare for a spacewalk tomorrow to remove and replace scientific experiments. They are also scheduled to install a television camera and relocate a fixture used for a crane outside the station.

-- From News Services