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Relieve - a matter of the heart for the ambulance

The world's largest ambulance study focusing on chest pain is now underway in Sweden.

The study is called "Relieve" and is about evaluating, alleviating and treating chest pain and anxiety in patients requiring ambulance care. Rapid relief of pain and anxiety can be the difference between life and death, in the long term.

Research studies targeting care given in ambulances are relatively uncommon. Ambulance health care is so much more than mere transportation to a hospital.

"As a patient you receive advanced health care even in the home when the ambulance staff arrives. Many patients want to get the hospital as fast as possible and don't want to remain at home 'unnecessarily.' But the extra minutes it takes to send an EKG to the hospital for assessment can save the patient up to four hours of waiting at the hospital. And time means heart muscle," maintains Erik Steneröd, one of a total of more than 500 ambulance nurses involved in what is presently the world's largest research study involving advanced heart health in ambulances.

Research into chest pain shows that it is important to get immediate help. One factor that plays a major role is the patient's anxiety.

"If you are experiencing chest pain, you often worry," says the researcher Birgitta Wireklint Sundström, project director and coordinator at the Western Götaland Prehospital Research Center at the University of Borås.

The aim of the study is to find a way to reduce the pain and dampen the anxiety, thereby raising the oxygen level of the blood and reducing the damage done to the heart muscle. It's about breaking a vicious circle of stress that uses up oxygen.

"There is a great deal of research that shows how harmful anxiety is to the patient. Mortality is higher in the long term among patients who experience great anxiety in connection with chest pain. It's therefore important to find ways to reduce the worry and relieve the pain," says Professor Johan Herlitz, a cardiologist.

"On the other hand, there is no previous research where it is tested whether a caring approach and a drug in combination have an effect. Nor is there any research that compares a combination of drugs and a caring reception with traditional drug treatment alone," says Birgitta Wireklint Sundström.

The prescription for breaking the vicious circle consists of two ingredients: calming drugs and a calming reception, grounded in caring science, on the part of the ambulance health care provider. The latter is being provided in accordance with a specific training concept.

The study is being performed throughout the Western Götaland region, with a total of 1.5 million inhabitants, and in the city of Halmstad. When the study is completed in the summer of 2010, it will have involved about 2,800 patients, some 500 ambulance nurses, 60 ambulances, and one boat.

Contact: Project Director Birgitta Wireklint Sundström
Phone: +46 (0)33-4354777; Cell phone: +46 (0)702-765485
Pressofficer Ann-Christine Andreasson;;
+46-708 17 41 22

Ann-Christine Andreasson | idw
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Further reports about: EKG Oxygen advanced heart health anxiety chest pain heart muscle vicious circle

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