Heart Month brings the latest life-saving technology for early heart attack detection, treatment.
Norfolk, VA. (February 21, 2011) – The Virginia Heart Attack Coalition (VHAC) this week recognized the efforts of Sentara Healthcare, working in conjunction with the Tidewater and Peninsulas EMS councils as they recently launched the LIFENET System from Physio-Control.
The first web-based system of its kind, this system has the goal of reducing time to treatment for patients in southeastern Virginia who experience a dangerous type of heart attack known as STEMI (ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction). STEMI poses a serious threat to the heart muscle and can result in death or serious disability for the patient. The more quickly patients receive treatment, which may include balloon angioplasty and stent placement in the cardiac catheterization lab, the more likely they are to have a positive outcome.
VHAC, in partnership with the American Heart Association’s Mission Lifeline, has long advocated for the use of electrocardiograms performed “in the field” by EMS to diagnose heart attacks faster. VHAC is a statewide initiative dedicated to improving the care of heart attack patients across the commonwealth. According to VHAC Co-Chairman Peter O’Brien, MD, the advance notice to receiving hospitals saves precious minutes in the race to open a blocked coronary artery and limit the damage caused by such an event.
“It cannot be overstated that when it comes to a heart attack, time is muscle,” says Carl Hartman, MD, medical director of Sentara Heart Hospital. “Consistent use of the LIFENET technology in the region means greater access to the fastest diagnosis and treatment to give patients the best possible chance of recovery.”
Sentara has spent recent years working with local EMS agencies on funding, access and training for the LIFENET system. EMS squads from Virginia Beach through Western Tidewater and up through Williamsburg are using the LIFENET system to transmit important clinical data to receiving hospitals throughout the region. Work continues to expand the program’s reach to the Eastern Shore of Virginia and northeastern North Carolina.
“This is a perfect example of how local EMS, Sentara and regional hospitals have worked together to ensure consistent, timely and more accurate patient information,” says Jeff Meyer, executive director of the Peninsulas EMS Council. “Our goal was to collaborate and extend resources to the entire region. We have been successful in that effort.”
Sentara hospitals in the region consistently have median "door to balloon" (D2B) times between 60 and 70 minutes, well below the 90 minute national standard. Sentara now publishes its median D2B times on its Sentara Heart website.
“The dividends of such a program are undeniable – better patient outcomes. This is exactly what we have been working for across the state and perfectly aligned with the goals of VHAC/Mission Lifeline,” O’Brien adds. “I applaud their achievements.”
The best course of action if you suspect a heart attack is to call 9-1-1 immediately. Not only are EMS providers specifically trained to recognize the signs and symptoms of heart attack and diagnose the problem onsite, they are also able to initiate treatment immediately.
“Too often, patients drive themselves or have a loved one transport them to the hospital if they suspect a heart problem,” adds Hartman. “People need to understand that EMS are highly trained and offer patients the best chance for survival and recovery during a heart attack.”
Sentara has long worked in partnership with local EMS affiliates to streamline heart attack care and achieve optimal outcomes for patients. Members of the Tidewater and Peninsulas EMS council share in the success of providing LIFENET technology throughout the Hampton Roads region. Hartman points to the LIFENET implementation project as just one example that reaffirms the commitment between hospital providers and local EMS.
“We all want to provide optimal patient care and we know that collaboration is key,” says Hartman.
American Heart Association’s Mission Lifeline
LIFENET System from Physio-Control
Peninsula EMS Council
Sentara Heart Hospital
Sentara Heart Services
Tidewater EMS Council
Virginia Heart Attack Coalition (VHAC)
For more health information and the latest press releases, go to the Sentara news page on Sentara.com.