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Heart-attack patients soon will receive clot-busting drugs in the ambulance on the way to Olean General Hospital as part of a study to determine if earlier treatment can increase survival rates or hasten recovery.

Known as the Phase Four Timi Trial, the study will test the drug Retavase in Olean and at 19 other sites involving 1,000 patients around the United States and Canada for nine to 12 months. The blood-clot-dissolving treatment is usually administered to most patients in the emergency room within 30 minutes of arrival.

Dr. Robert A. Catalano, chief executive officer of the hospital, who announced the study during a press conference Wednesday, said the trial means a higher level of care for the community and will place it on the leading edge if the earlier treatment is adopted as a standard for heart-attack patients.

Dr. Henry Storch, Olean Medical Group cardiologist, is the principal investigator in the study, which will be overseen by Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston, a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School.

He said patients will be asked to release medical information as a condition of participating in the Timi Trial, after being stabilized and transferred out of the emergency room to a hospital bed.

Members of the Olean City Fire Department, Salamanca Fire Department and Transam Ambulance crews have met Continuing Medical Education requirements to participate in the study.

"We are announcing this study because we want patients to be fully aware when we approach them to participate that this is going on," Storch said. "What we hope to help prove is that the earliest delivery of Retavase will save lives -- not only people in the Olean region, but everywhere."

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