Stopping a Heart Attack in Seven Minutes
Mercy Medical Center, with the Nation’s only ED Cath Lab, Sets World-record STEMI Times
It took just seven minutes.
From the heart attack patient’s arrival at Canton, Ohio-based Mercy Medical Center Emergency Chest Pain Center (ECPC) to angioplasty that opened blocked heart arteries, the hospital’s team of specially trained physicians and nurses set the current world-record STEMI time – and,more importantly, saved someone’s life.
The secret to Mercy’s astounding success with emergency heart care is, in fact, no secret. Nor is it a stroke of luck. It’s the result of nearly 15 years of pioneering rapid, proven chest pain triage combined with the ground-breaking installation of the nation’s first and only fixed, state-of-the-art cardiac catheterization lab in an emergency department.
Because the heart muscle can sustain irreparable damage while blood flow is blocked, the American College of Cardiology has established a goal of getting 75 percent of major heart attack victims (also referred to as ST-elevation myocardial infarction, or STEMI) to catheterization within 90 minutes of hospital arrival. At Mercy, the cath lab is literally just feet away from the ambulance entrance, significantly shortening the span between a heart attack and lifesaving angioplasty. Many patients receive catheterization within 15 minutes, making Mercy one of the nation’s fastest angioplasty responders.
Opening a blocked artery quickly using balloon angioplasty not only saves patients’ lives, but also improves their chances of returning to an active lifestyle.
Team Effort is Critical
Nearly 850 Americans die each day without warning because of coronary heart disease (CHD). According to the American Heart Association, CHD remains the leading killer in America. An estimated 1.2 million Americans will have a new or recurrent attack this year and about 310,000 will die in an emergency department or without being hospitalized.
Harvard-trained interventional cardiologist, medical director of the Mercy Heart Center and co-director of Mercy ECPC Ahmed Sabe, M.D., says CHD can take people by surprise. He adds, “If you have chest pain, seek medical attention immediately. So much heart damage can be done between the onset of symptoms and the 9-1-1 call.”
In its efforts to combat CHD, Mercy emerged as a local and national leader in advanced heart care in the 1990s – a distinction it still holds today – due in large part to the teamwork of Sabe and Frank Kaeberlein, M.D., medical director of emergency services and co-director of Mercy ECPC. In 1998, Mercy was the site of the world’s first angioplasty in an ED and its first accredited chest pain center in 2003. National firsts include the use of cardiopulmonary bypass and cardiac assist devices to resuscitate STEMI patients in an ED and cath lab in 2006.
Kaeberlein recognizes that saving lives takes a team effort. He says, “The protocols in the Mercy Chest Pain Center streamline efforts to speed the treatment of heart attack patients. Everyone plays a role— the fast response of the paramedics; the immediate evaluation by our Chest Pain Center nursing staff and physicians; and the immediate response from the cath lab team of experienced nurses, technicians and interventional cardiologists.”
Community Hospitals Should Strive for Excellence
Sabe, Kaeberlein, Allyson Kelly, RN, Administrative Director, Heart Center, and the late Sandra Moore, RN, Nursing Director, Emergency Department, began the quest to transform heart attack care based on a belief that a community hospital has a duty to strive for excellence. That belief was in keeping with the mission and philosophy of Mercy’s founders, the Sisters of Charity of St.Augustine, who established the hospital in 1908 to provide quality, compassionate, access- ible and affordable care for the community.
According to Sabe, who has held the world record Door to Balloon (D2B) time for 10 years, many said performing angioplasty in an ED would be risky, impractical and wasteful. Mercy’s team, however, was not deterred. “We moved forward,” says Sabe, “knowing that heart attack patients need the very best care close to home. Their lives depend on it. Now, in our chest pain center’s second decade, we continue to help set national standards for heart attack care.”
Sabe’s hope is that more community hospitals will recognize the importance of a chest pain center – specifically, a chest pain center with a dedicated cath lab – and invest in this lifesaving practice. “Hospitals considering this technology may look mainly at the cost factor, but how do you place a price tag on life? People are invaluable, and there is no safer, faster or better way to stop the damage of heart attack,” he says.
#1 in Ohio
Mercy Heart Center was the nation’s first accredited chest pain center and was named twice to the US News and World Report Best 50 Heart Centers. We are proud to add to this impressive list with the recent ranking as #1 in Ohio for Overall Cardiac Care by HealthGrades in their 2011 Report.