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The Nation

In a study with far-reaching implications for the routine treatment of heart attack patients, researchers have found that the immediate use of special balloons to force open clogged arteries is unnecessary in the vast majority of cases if the patient is treated with a clot-dissolving drug. Most heart specialists have assumed that the balloon treatment, an expensive and increasingly popular procedure called balloon angioplasty, should routinely follow the use of drugs, such as TPA, that dissolve the blood clots that cause most heart attacks. But in a study of 3,262 heart-attack patients, researchers at medical centers across the country found the extra measures were rarely needed. The results were reported in today’s issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.


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