In yet another initiative to deliver the best to patients, two Singhealth institutions, National Heart Centre (NHC) and Singapore General Hospital's Emergency Cardiac Care Unit (ECCU) are working closely together to offer round-the-clock services to heart attack patients with a team of dedicated and professional doctors, nurses and paramedics 365 days a year.

NHC will be one of the few medical centres in Asia to offer a 24-hour angioplasty service at its facilities. Angioplasty is the process of introducing a small balloon to re-open a blocked blood vessel mechanically to treat heart attack patients.

About 4000 Singaporeans every year suffer from an acute heart attack, which occurs when the blood flow in a major blood vessel supplying the heart muscle is blocked by cholesterol. While the more conventional method for treating a heart attack would be using medicine to dissolve the clot (more commonly known as clot-busters), reports from key overseas centres confirm the superiority of angioplasty over clot-busters.

Said Assoc. Prof. Charles Chan, Director of NHC's Cardiovascular Laboratory: "Clinical studies have shown that primary angioplasty is effective in opening the occluded artery in over 90% of cases compared to the 70% success rate with clot-busters."

NHC recently conducted an observational study where it made a comparison between 103 patients with diabetes treated with clot-busting medicine and 99 patients with diabetes treated with angioplasty. The study found that the patients treated with angioplasty have a greater survivability rate and show more positive results as compared to those treated with clot-busters.

The same study shows the reason why patients receiving clot-busters fared not as well as compared to those receiving angioplasty is because clot-busting agents stimulate the body's clotting system and thus increases the chance of re-clotting, despite the presence of potent medicine which prevents blood from re-clotting.

Said Dr Mak Koon Hou, Director of Clinical Trials, Senior Consultant, NHC: "These results have provided new insights to the medical community and help develop novel therapeutic strategies against these unfavourable effects of clot-busters."

Said Assoc. Prof. Koh Tian Hai, Acting Director, NHC: "A JAMA study conducted in the USA called for a standard of 24-hour availability in all the hospitals. NHC has a team of dedicated and professional doctors, nurses and paramedics with an extensive experience in treating patients with angioplasty who are available 24 hours a day to treat heart attack patients."