Time is muscle. If you’re having a heart attack, quick intervention not only increases your chance of survival, it also helps minimize the damage to your heart muscle and reduces your risk of long-term cardiac trouble, including heart failure.
“Every minute counts,” said Willie Maxwell, R.N., director of Lake Regional Health System’s Cardiac Catheterization Lab. “During a heart attack, a portion of the heart muscle is dying. Heart attacks often are caused by blocked blood vessels. Promptly restoring that blood flow to the heart is the best way to reduce the chance of permanent damage or disability.”
Through teamwork and collaboration between Lake Regional’s Emergency Department, cardiologists, Cath Lab staff and local EMS providers, 100 percent of Lake Regional patients with certain types of heart attacks throughout the past year have had door-to-balloon times of 90 minutes or less. The average time has been 50 minutes.
Door-to-balloon time is the interval between when a patient with ST segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) arrives in the emergency department and when a catheter guidewire is inserted to open the blocked vessel in the cardiac cath lab. National guidelines recommend this process be completed within 90 minutes of a patient’s arrival at the hospital to reduce cardiac muscle damage.
“We are working to beat the clock before the patients even enter the door,” said Melissa Hunter, R.N., nurse manager of Lake Regional Emergency Department. “The ED physicians work closely with the EMTs and flight crews who communicate findings en route to the hospital. This helps the physicians quickly activate the Cath Lab team, if necessary, and begin the proper treatment for patients the moment they arrive.”
Emergency cardiac services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at Lake Regional. These services are part of the health system’s comprehensive cardiovascular program, which includes cardiac catheterization, open heart surgery and cardiac rehabilitation.
“Our cardiac care team is committed to exceeding national standards for patient care,” Maxwell said. “By working together and communicating with local EMS crews, we are able to provide faster care for area heart attack patients, increasing their chances for a full recovery.”
Lake Regional’s Cardiac Cath Lab treats 1,500 patients annually, including an average of 70 STEMI patients per year. To learn more about cardiovascular services available at Lake Regional, visit lakeregional.com/HeartCare.
If you think you might be having a heart attack — even if you’re not sure — call 9-1-1 immediately. Do not drive yourself to the hospital; ambulance crews will start life-saving treatment right away and contact the hospital so that everyone is prepared before you enter the doors. Quick treatment can save your life.