More than four in five of patients suffering serious heart attacks in England now have their damaged artery opened using a balloon to remove blockages.
The technique known as primary angioplasty is performed on patients at regional centres of excellence where more than 2,000 patients from the region were treated in 2010-11.
Nine in 10 received the procedure within 90 minutes of arriving at the centres.
Around four in five were treated within two-and-a-half hours of calling for help although this fell to only 64 per cent in Leeds, the lowest in the country, partly due to delays transferring patients from other hospitals.
Most patients bypass local hospital units and are admitted directly to the units.
The majority of patients suffering heart attacks have a lower risk of early death than the most serious cases and do not need emergency treatment but still require prompt care.
Former York cardiologist Sir Roger Boyle, who stepped down earlier this year after more than a decade as the Government’s heart tsar, said deaths rates after heart attacks had fallen faster in the UK than anywhere in Europe.
“The chances of survival after heart attack have improved year on year despite an ageing population so that the outcomes in this country match the best in the world,” he said.