Professional meetings for cardiologists may have an added benefit: In some cases, heart patients survive longer when their doctors are away at conferences.
In a retrospective analysis, researchers studied 30,000 patients admitted to teaching hospitals for heart attack, heart failure and cardiac arrest during national professional meetings and compared them with 79,000 admitted during the three weeks before and after meetings. The study is in JAMA Internal Medicine.
During nonmeeting days, 24.8 percent of heart failure and 69.4 percent of cardiac arrest patients died within 30 days. But while cardiologists were at meetings, only 17.5 percent of heart failure and 59.1 percent of cardiac arrest patients died within a month. There was no significant difference among heart attack patients, although in high-risk heart attack patients there were fewer insertions of a stent to open blocked coronary arteries during nonmeeting days.
The lead author, Dr. Anupam B. Jena, an assistant professor of health care policy at Harvard, said that the difference in death rates may be attributed in part to overly aggressive treatments, such as when a stent is inserted unnecessarily.