A new study published in April 2008 in Circulation (on line) has shown that when patients suffering heart attacks are treated at hospitals during the week, they get better and more efficient care than those who are treated on the weekend or on holidays.
Patients treated on weekends and holidays are less likely to undergo bypass surgery or angioplasty. Angioplasty is the preferred treatment for blocked arteries causing heart attacks and must be done within one and a half hours of the cardiac event. Patients treated on weekends and holidays waited much longer for angioplasty than those treated on weekdays, presumably because of the more immediate availability of interventional cardiologists at the facility during on weekdays. Over 50% of the weekend patients waited longer that the recommended 90 minute window for angioplasty. It is uncertain if the delay increases morbidity or mortality in such patients as there are conflicting studies on this issue.