Heart procedure now available in Worcestershire
Heart patients in Herefordshire and Worcestershire will be able to have a "life-saving" procedure closer to home.
A spokesman for NHS Herefordshire said primary angioplasty is regarded as the best intervention for patients having a heart attack.
In the past patients had to travel outside the county for treatment or take drugs instead.
But the procedure will now be available at Worcestershire Royal Hospital from Monday to Friday, 0830 to 1630 GMT.
The treatment has been started following an agreement between NHS Herefordshire and Worcestershire Primary Care Trust.
There are plans to expand the service later this year to 24 hours a day seven days a week.
Primary angioplasty is used to treat the narrowed or blocked blood vessels around the heart a short time after a heart attack.'Big difference'
The process involves inserting a very narrow tube directly into a blood vessel in the groin that can then be directed up to the heart. The balloon expands the artery and a stent is inserted.
The spokesman said up to now patients suffering from a heart attack have received what is known as the "clot-buster drug" (thrombolysis) either before or after being transferred to hospital.
Paul Edwards, associate director of integrated commissioning for NHS Herefordshire and Herefordshire Council, said: "This is great news for heart patients and their relatives who would previously have had to travel to Birmingham or Wolverhampton for intervention.
"Accessing this procedure in Worcester will make a big difference to people's lives."
He added NHS Herefordshire had also arranged for two of its consultants to spend time at Worcester Royal Hospital to work with people who need to have a stent implanted in less urgent situations so they can be cared for by their own consultant.