Monday, April 13, 2015

Time your next heart attack to conincide with national cardiology meetings

Surprisingly, high-risk patients with heart failure and cardiac arrest admitted to US teaching hospitals during dates of national cardiology meetings had lower 30-day mortality rates. The surprise is that outcomes improved despite the absence of the cardiologists who attended the meetings. While the cause of this correlation and the generalizability of the methodology are unclear, the finding is very significant. A Freakonomics podcast covering this study expressed the magnitude of this effect in a powerful comparison. While the combination of common interventions (beta-blockers, statins, aspirin, and blood thinners) reduce mortality risk by 2-3% in these patients, this effect reduced mortality risk by up to 10%. The Freakonomics podcast also entertainingly asks some cardiologists attending a cardiology meeting about the findings. The most compelling reason presented in the podcast to explain this effect is that the health professionals not attending national cardiology meetings use more conservative interventions during this time.