The nationwide German certification process of specialized chest pain units is unique in Europe. By February 2018, 269 units had already been successfully certified. With that number, more than half of all catheter laboratories across the country offering service on a 24/7 basis for interventional treatment in myocardial infarction take part in that certified chest pain program – with still increasing tendency. Currently, those units provide a mean of one chest pain unit bed per 65,000 inhabitants. Thereby, a high percentage of recertification of about 95% reflects a high acceptance of the concept by the health care providers. Structured in-hospital procedures, increasing awareness within the community and among the emergency medical services as well as increasing numbers of self-referrals guarantee higher work-flow, improving performance and an even increasing demand for those units. Complimentary patient awareness campaigns focusing on early symptom recognition might further improve, expand and redirect patient flow, shorten patient-related delay and have to become the next level in chest pain patient care in Germany. Transferring the idea of early heart attack care to the community as a new way of thinking might be able to more significantly decrease future symptoms-to-therapy times as the current chest pain unit program can solely achieve.
From the *Department of Cardiology, Arnsberg Medical Center, Arnsberg, Germany
†Department of Cardiology and Vascular Medicine, West German Heart and Vascular Center Essen, University Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany.
Received for publication April 16, 2018; accepted April 20, 2018.
Reprints: Frank Breuckmann, PhD, MD, Department of Cardiology, Arnsberg Medical Center, Stolte Ley 5, 59759 Arnsberg, Germany. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.