1.5 million people in this country suffer heart attacks a year. Sadly a third of them die from it. Do you know the warning signals? Do you know when to get help? The Avera Heart Hospital in Sioux Falls held a drill on July 31st to make sure they are ready for you in the event you need them.
If you are having chest discomfort, are dizzy, nauseous, short of breath and/or sweating profusely, doctors hope you'll use an ambulance to get treatment immediately. 80 % of heart attack patients either drive themselves or get a ride to the ER. Doctors say those people are putting their lives at risk.
Dr. John Jerstad is an Emergency Physician at the Avera Heart Hospital. He says, "Time means muscle. The sooner we can get the artery opened up the better the chance your heart has of not suffering as much damage and is functioning correctly."
The Avera Heart Hospital is an Accredited Chest Pain Center. The only one in the region. They are running through a drill using a mock patient with STEMI or S-T-Elevated Myocardial Infarction which is a type of very serious heart attack. As part of the accreditation process, a team of people from the National Society of Chest Pain Centers is taking notes to watch every step from ambulance service to the trauma room to the cath lab.
Dr. Tom Isaacson is a cardiologist at the hospital who was part of a large number of people taking part in the CODE STEMI Drill. He told the pretend patient, "You are indeed experiencing a heart attack and we are going to take you into the cath lab and x-ray the vessels that are blocked where there is not good blood flow."
Dr. Jerstad says, "The whole concept behind the Society of Chest Pain Centers is that not only is the hospital at it's absolute pristine condition for taking care of patients with heart attacks but eventually develop into an actual chest pain community where the emergency medicine service, fire, ambulance is integrated into our system."
The goal is community education. Know the signs of a heart attack and get help. The team of doctors has 90 minutes from the time you hit the ER door until irreversible damage is done.
Dr. Jerstad says, "This type of myocardial infarction responds very well to early intervention. The whole goal is to get them into the heart catheterization lab to get the artery opened up and get the blood pumping back to the heart as soon as possible."
For women the signs may be different. Women are more likely to have slight chest discomfort, accompanied by dizziness, being light headed... almost to the point of passing out.
For more information go to www.southdakotaheart.com or you can also call 877-at-AVERA.