Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Britain is no country for old men in need of emergency treatment for heart attacks

A report today by the 'Dr Foster Intelligence Unit', a healthcare information provider based at Imperial College London, warns that men in their 50s are three times more likely to be offered an emergency treatment for heart attacks than old men in their 80s with some hospitals refusing to offer the treatment to anyone over 75. Specifically, on average about 18% of old men in their 80s are treated compared to 52% of men in their 50s.

 The procedure, a 'percutaneous coronary intervention', widens blood vessels and has been credited with saving the lives of up to 80 patients a year and hundreds since it was first introduced in the late 1980s. It involves patients being sedated, but not given a general anaesthetic, while a thin tube is inserted into their upper leg and threaded up to the coronary artery in the heart and once in place is inflated, widening the blocked artery and increasing the blood flow to the heart.
Michelle Mitchell, of 'Age UK' said: ‘ "It is unacceptable to use someone’s age as a shortcut to deciding whether they are suitable for treatment. Everyone must be given the most effective, suitable treatment for their individual circumstances and chronological age must not be used as a cut-off date."

Old men and women in hospital are further at risk because, as the Report also warned, hospital wards are becoming ‘dangerously’ overcrowded, raising the risk of infections and blunders by staff
Ideally, only 85% of hospital beds should be occupied at any one time to ensure patients are treated safely, however, most hospitals are 90% full almost all the year round, rising to 95% in winter.
Roger Taylor, Director of Research at 'Dr Foster Intelligence', said:
"When hospitals get full up they have to put patients in the first bed they can find and that increases the risk. There’s also evidence that infections become much harder to control as hospitals become fuller."
Britain, a country where old men are denied life-saving treatment for heart attacks because of  age discrimination with doctors making ‘inaccurate assumptions’ about patients based on their dates of birth.

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