This is Science Today. Each year, about 100 thousand
elderly Americans with a heart condition called
left bundle-branch block will have a heart attack.
These patients have a small area of damaged heart
tissue that doesn't allow an electrical current
to pass through in a normal manner. Dr. Michael
Shlipak of the University of California, San Francisco,
says this skews ECG readings and leads to under-treatment.
In patients with left bundle-branch block, it's
never been known exactly what the likelihood of
them having a heart attack when they come in with
chest pain. We know that they're high risk, we know
they are likely to die if they do have a heart attack,
but if they come in with chest pain, we've never
know what to do.
In a recent study, Shilpak found the best option
is to treat these patients with either thrombolytic
therapy or angioplasty.
Now, the important thing from the public health
point of view is that the current utilization of
these therapies is very low. As physicians, we have
a long way to go towards optimally treating them
and that was part of the conclusions of our paper.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.