New Program Helps Acute Heart Attack Patients Receive Life-Saving Treatment Faster

July 2, 2009

Time can mean the difference between life and death when you’re having a heart attack. When circulation to the heart is cut off due to blockage in one or more coronary arteries, the heart muscle begins to die. The faster circulation can be restored by clearing the blockage, the less damage the heart will suffer.

Floyd Memorial Hospital is part of a new partnership that includes Louisville Metro EMS, the American Heart Association and several area hospitals. The goal is to shorten the time between treatment by EMS and the opening of coronary artery blockage in a cardiac catheterization lab. Using sophisticated technology, EMS crews will use mobile EKGs to diagnose acute heart attacks in the field. They will then transmit the EKG to the nearest hospital that can perform percutaneous coronary intervention, or PCI.

Floyd Memorial Hospital has been performing PCI since our Heart and Vascular and Emergency Center opened in 2006. A special grant from the Indiana State Department of Health enabled the hospital to purchase the EKG transmission technology required to participate in the partnership.

Kelly Hentrup, RN, BSN, MHA, is Floyd Memorial’s clinical manager of Cardiovascular Services. “We have 24-hour coverage of our cardiac cath lab,” she said. “The team includes an interventional cardiologist, specially trained cath lab nurses and radiology technicians.” As Linda Minton, RN, BSN, MS, director of the Emergency Center, explained, “We can have the cardiac cath team setting up to perform an angioplasty, a procedure in which a balloon is used to open blockage in a coronary artery, while the ambulance is still on the way. You have to be excited about a service that will allow us increase heart attack survival rates!”

“Pre-hospital care providers,such as EMS, can now obtain an EKG in the field, identify an acute heart attack, and transmit the results of the EKG to us while they’re on the way. That gives us a heads up to notify the interventional cardiologist and cardiac cath lab so they can be ready when the patient arrives. This quick response has been shown to reduce critical door-to-balloon time. It can be especially important for people who live in more outlying areas of our community.”

Thomas M. Harris, MD, FACEP
Board Certified Emergency
Medicine Specialist
Floyd Emergency Medical Associates

What Is Door-to-Balloon Time?

The time that passes between a patient’s arrival in the emergency room and the restoration of blood flow to the heart through intervention is called door-to-balloon time. According to Minton, “We believe this new prehospital EKG capability will allow us to shave 10 to 20 critical minutes off our door-to-balloon time.”

“Having the ability to receive the EKG from the ambulance is a real advantage. Floyd Memorial has an interventional cardiologist on call 24/7. If we can identify the patient who needs to get to the cath lab before they arrive, we can activate the team iimmediately. When the patient hits our door, the lab can be ready to perform angioplasty, open up the blocked artery and stop the heart attack in progress.”

Syed Raza, MD
Board Certified Interventional
Cardiologist
Kentuckiana Heart Doctors

“This is very exciting because it will allow individuals who are having chest pain to be screened so that those who are actually having an acute heart attack can be identified immediately. The hospital can focus its resources on those patients who need immediate intervention, saving time that can save heart muscle and lives.

Naveen Dev, MD
Board Certified Cardiologist
Cardiovascular Associates of
Southern Indiana