A study finds your chances of dying from a heart attack aren’t any greater in a rural hospital than they are in an urban hospital. The University of Iowa study of 119 rural hospitals in Iowa counters prevailing studies that found you had a greater chance of not surviving a heart attack if you were treated at a rural hospital.
Dr. Paul James says they believe the difference in death rates is based more on the group of patients treated at rural hospitals. James says their study found the average age of patients dying of heart attacks in rural hospitals was far older than those dying in urban facilities. James says that leads them to believe the elderly patients are requesting that the be treated nearer to their home. James says age difference gives the wrong impression that heart attack patients are dying more often in rural hospitals.
James says they have every reason to believe that all otherwise normal people with heart attacks are evaluated in rural hospitals and then readily transferred to the highest care facility when at all possible — so they do not contribute to the death rate in rural hospitals.
James, is the head of family medicine in the U-I College of Medicine, and says you shouldn’t have a concern about treatment in rural areas. He says he’d reassure anyone living or traveling in a rural area that’s having a heart attack to get the quickest care possible. James says there are plenty of qualified doctors in rural areas that can treat your heart attack and getting the care quickly is important to your survival.