Once a heart attack starts, the clock starts ticking on the viability of the heart muscle. If the blocked artery is not opened quickly, the heart muscle will be permanently damaged. Therefore, we try to have the artery opened in less than 90 minutes after the patient first arrives at the hospital. We call this the Door-to-Balloon time (D2B time).
One way to get the process rolling faster, is to have the emergency medical team alert the hospital that a patient is having a heart attack even before he/she arrives at the hospital. This gives the hospital time to mobilize the doctors/nurses/techs that will be taking of the patient, prior to hospital arrival.
A recent study in the April 2009 edition of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology: CardioVascular Interventions showed that in 10 regional communities that utilized the strategy of prehospital alert of a heart attack, 86% of patients were successfully treated in less than 90 minutes. This is well above the benchmark of 75% set by the American College of Cardiology.
At Stamford Hospital, we initiated this strategy over 2 years ago. We too have witnessed a dramatic decrease in our D2B times. With this, we are saving a lot of heart muscle and improving patient outcomes.
With the success of the program at Stamford Hospital, I have been helping develop similar programs for the Bridgeport and Norwalk communities at St Vincents Medical Center and at Norwalk Hospital's new program.
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