More than 250 lives a year could be saved by a new method of emergency heart attack treatment, the Department of Health has said.
Introducing angioplasty, a procedure that involves inserting and inflating a small balloon in the blocked coronary artery, will saves lives, money and reduce time spent in hospital, a government study found.
The most common treatment for heart attacks in the UK is currently thrombolysis, the injection of clot busting drugs. The National Infarct Angioplasty Project (NIAP) report said angioplasty reduces patients' risk of reoccurring heart attack and could prevent around 260 strokes a year.
Around 97% of the UK population could receive angioplasty within the 120-minute treatment window – areas unable to meet this timescale will continue using thrombolysis, the report said.
Health Secretary Alan Johnson said introducing the angioplasty strategy across the country will "save hundreds of lives each year".
He said: "Primary angioplasty is at the forefront of clinical innovation and it is a testament to staff and management in the NHS that it can be offered quickly and expertly in specialist centres across the country."
Heart attacks kill one person every six minutes in the UK and each year around 146,000 suffer attacks.