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Huguley Initiative Speeds Heart Attack Treatment

Reaching national cardiology goal brings smiles to Huguley Emergency Department and Cath Lab staff.

When it comes to heart attacks, seconds count.  To improve patient care, the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association set a national goal that heart attack patients entering the emergency room would have blood vessel blockages opened within 90 minutes.

According to Medicare data reported from July 2007 to June 2008, Huguley Memorial Medical Center met that goal in 83% of cases, compared to a Texas average of 69%.  Since then, Huguley launched an initiative to further reduce the time it takes for heart attack patients to be treated.  For the last six months, Huguley has reached that goal in 100% of their patients.

“Physicians, nurses and techs in the emergency room and the heart catheterization lab have collaborated to get patients with chest pain evaluated and treated as soon as possible.  We’re focusing intently to improve the outcomes of patients with heart attacks,” said Julie Songy, RN, care manager of Huguley’s heart catheterization lab.

The 90-minute goal

The American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association set the national goal of opening heart blockages that are causing heart attacks within 90 minutes of arriving in the emergency room because studies have shown that death rates from heart attacks rise after 90 minutes.   Also, when an artery is blocked, every minute can impact how much heart muscle is saved.

After emergency room personnel determine that a patient is experiencing an acute heart attack, the patient is taken to the heart catheterization lab.  A cardiologist determines the location of the blockage and opens it using one of two common interventions:  angioplasty, which inflates a balloon to open the blood vessel; or stenting, which places a small wire tube in the blood vessel to hold it open.

“The faster a heart attack is treated, the less damage occurs in the heart.  Patients who might be experiencing a cardiac event need to get to the emergency department as soon as possible.  If you have chest pain, don’t wait.  Call 911,” Mrs. Songy explained.