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What is the Weekend Effect?

Posted by Emerald Coast Medical Association on Feb 9, 2018 10:08:17 AM

Cardiovascular disease accounts for approximately 800,000 deaths per year in the United States or one out of every three deaths. Coronary heart disease accounts for the majority of cardiovascular disease  deaths, followed by stroke and heart failure. Although deaths due to heart disease have declined over the past 10 years, it remains the leading cause of death in the US. 


While Survival rates for patients who have a heart attack in the hospital have improved, the odds are surprisingly a bit poorer for patients who go into cardiac arrest on a weekend.


Researchers at Geisinger Health System analyzed data on more than 151,000 adults at 470 hospitals between 2000 and 2014.  What they found was surprising; cardiac arrest survival rates in hospitals during weekdays increased from 16% to 25.2% over that fourteen year period, while the survival rate on weeknights and weekends increased from 11.9% to just 21.9%. About half of the patients in the study went into cardiac arrest in off-hours. The gap between survival rates for weekdays and off-hours remained roughly the same throughout the study period.


This so called “weekend effect” has been well-documented around the world. Patients in several developed countries who are admitted to hospitals, for all reasons, on Saturdays and Sundays are more likely to die within 30 days than patients with similar conditions who are hospitalized during the week.

The reasons why are not fully clear. Paul Aylin, a professor of epidemiology and public health in the School of Public Health at Imperial College London says “Our own work around stroke care in the UK suggests that patients admitted at the weekends are less likely to get a same-day brain scan, less likely to get clot-busting treatment and have worse outcomes across a range of indicators.”


More research needs to be done into the reasons for and prevention of the “weekend effect”, but as the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. There are ways you can reduce your risk of heart disease such as controlling your blood pressure, eating a healthy diet, limiting alcohol and getting regular exercise.


In addition to steps you can take at home, regular visits to an experienced cardiologist are important if you have any risk factors for heart disease. Emerald Coast Medical Association is proud to have many excellent cardiologists as members, who would be happy to treat you and go over any preventative options you may have. Please click below to view our member directory and take action to stay heart healthy for life!

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