More than a million people in this country will have heart attacks this year and almost half of them will die. More people would survive if they would have gotten help faster. We watched as physicians at the Avera Heart Hospital put themselves to the test in the event you come in to their E.R.
Emergencies happen around the clock at Avera Heart Hospital in Sioux Falls, luckily, this isn't one of them. Rural/Metro Ambulance Service is working with the Heart Hospital and their Emergency Department in a heart attack drill. The Heart Hospital is the only Accredited Chest Pain Center. To keep that status, they keep up-to-date on protocol by doing yearly drills. Joe Brown volunteered to be a patient suffering with a ST Segment Elevation Myocardial Infarction or STEMI. Myocardial Infarction is a heart attack. The stuff before it makes it a very serious situation on the heart attack scale.
Cardiologist Dr. Tom Isaacson with North Central Heart says, "In an EKG it tells us about the electrical activity of the heart by giving us a signature. It tells us we have a complete blockage of blood flow in one of the vessels leading to the heart muscle. Thus depriving the heart muscle of oxygen and killing heart muscle cells. That's why time is such an issue."
The sooner we can get our hands on the patient, the sooner that patient comes in more rapidly we can restore blood flow."
Cardiologist's say their biggest challenge is getting you here sooner. On the first onset of pain and discomfort anywhere from your belly button to the tip of your nose call 911 and get to the emergency room. Symptoms may include a chest pain, pressure or squeezing. It can sometimes feel like indigestion or heartburn, but lasts longer. You may have pain in one or both arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach, shortness of breath, nausea, lightheadedness, or breaking out in a cold sweat.
Director of the Chest Pain Center Dr. John Jerstad in the Emergency Department says, "Time is muscle. The faster you can get here the more muscle in the heart we can save. Sometimes we can interrupt a whole heart attack and prevent permanent damage."
The goal is get the patient from Door-to-Balloon in 90 minutes. That means from the time the patient hits the emergency room until the time they are taken into the coronary catheter lab for an angiogram and angioplasty less than an hour and a half has passed. They did it in 10 minutes today. No one wants to be the patient, but the staff at the Avera Heart Hospital is ready for you if you are, just get here soon enough to let them do their jobs and save your life.
About 3 months ago Rural/Metro Ambulance Service upgraded it's ability to transmit EKG's. Now they can send them to the Heart Hospital Emergency Department from inside the ambulance or from a patient's home. It gives cardiologists a heads up to the severity of the heart attack so they can prepare for it.