Every second counts for heart attack patients undergoing an angioplasty, a cardiac procedure where a catheter with a small balloon at the tip is inserted and inflated to open a blocked artery.
The total time from when a patient arrives at a hospital until the artery is reopened is called “door-to-balloon” time. Partnering with the Friendswood Volunteer Fire Department Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Memorial Hermann Southeast Hospital recently performed the lifesaving treatment in just 33 minutes.
“After rapid evaluation in the Emergency Room, patients are taken directly to the Cardiac Catheterization Lab so blood flow to the heart can be quickly restored,” said Trauma, Stroke and Chest Pain Programs Clinical Manager Andrea Holmes, R.N., M.S.N. “The faster, the better – reducing the time lowers a patient’s risk of death and serious damage to the heart muscle.”
Each year, an estimated 500,000 patients have the most serious kind of heart attack, called a “STEMI” (ST – segment elevation myocardial infarction), caused by a complete stoppage of blood supply to the heart muscle due to a blocked artery. Unless the blockage is quickly removed, that part of the heart muscle dies.
“If you are experiencing chest pressure or chest pain, call 911 or get to a hospital immediately,” said Friendswood EMS Chief Lisa Camp. “Especially if this feeling is accompanied by pain or discomfort in one or both arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach. Also, watch for shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, and lightheadedness.”
The American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association have developed national hospital guidelines calling for a door-to-balloon time of less than 90 minutes.
“Every minute matters when a patient is having a heart attack; that’s why cardiologists always say ‘Time is Muscle,’” said Cardiology Section Chair Rajan Kadakia, M.D., who also serves as the medical director of the Chest Pain Center. “Fast treatment is crucial to improving a patient’s chance of survival and minimizing damage to the heart.”
As a Chest Pain Center with percutaneous coronary intervention accredited by the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care, Memorial Hermann Southeast’s comprehensive heart and vascular care includes noninvasive cardiology, peripheral invasive cardiology, peripheral vascular surgery, and cardiac rehabilitation services. The only hospital in southeast Houston listed on the Transradial Hospital Locator website, it offers three cardiac catheterization labs, complete with electrophysiology capabilities, to provide an array of diagnostic and interventional procedures.