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Quick use of anticoagulants saves heart patients’ lives

22 June 2010

When anticoagulants are administered quickly, the chances of complications after a heart attack diminish markedly. If anticoagulants are given on board an ambulance, it’s even possible to avert a heart attack which will decrease the number of deaths due to them. This conclusion follows from research in the Netherlands by cardiologist Ton Heestermans involving a group of 984 heart patients. Heestermans published earlier on his research in British medical journal The Lancet. Heestermans will be awarded a PhD for his research on 30 June 2010 by the University of Groningen.

Heestermans followed 984 heart patients for an extended period of time. Administering anticoagulants as early as possible meant that a necessary angioplasty treatment could not only be conducted more safely but also be done better. After a year, this group of patients were in better health: fewer had died, fewer had complications and the quality of life was higher. Administering anticoagulants quickly was most effective mainly in those cases where the emergency services had been rung within an hour.

A larger stent

Heestermans’ research also shows that anticoagulants are effective in preventing early thrombosis in stents placed in the coronary arteries. Stent thrombosis is a potentially lethal condition which occurs in two percent of cases after angioplasty has been carried out. One in six patients afflicted by this type of thrombosis perishes. This can be prevented to some extent by not stopping treatment with clopidogrel too soon and by using a sufficiently large stent.

Curriculum Vitae

Ton Heestermans (Chaam, 1973) studied medicine in Leuven, Belgium. He conducted his research at the Medical Center Alkmaar in collaboration with the Isala hospital in Zwolle, the St Antonius hospital in Nieuwegein and the Catherina hospital in Eindhoven. He works as a cardiologist at the Medical Center Alkmaar. The title of his thesis is Antiplatelet therapy in myocardial infarction and coronary stent thrombosis. His promotor is Professor Felix Zijlsta.

Note for the press

Contact: the UMCG press office, tel. 050-361 2200, e-mail:


Last modified:15 September 2017 3.29 p.m.

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