New Equipment Helps Improve Early Heart Care
FAYETTEVILLE – When a patient is having a heart attack, nearly 85 percent of the damage occurs within the first two hours. That’s why hospitals work so hard to get patients to the cardiac catheterization lab as quickly as possible.
Recently Cape Fear Valley Health added special equipment to its ambulances that can cut this time dramatically. The LIFENET system, from Physio-Control, Inc., was purchased with a $76,640 grant from Cape Fear Valley Health Foundation’s Friends of Children. It allows paramedics to securely transmit EKGs to Emergency Department physicians in real time. The goal is to reduce time to treatment, known as door-to-balloon time (D2B), for patients who experience a dangerous type of heart attack known as STEMI (ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction).
D2B time refers to the interval from patient arrival at the hospital to inflation of the balloon catheter within the patient’s blocked artery – the shorter the D2B time, the greater the chance of survival.
On May 24, this equipment made a difference for 80-year-old Phillip Outterbridge, who lives in western Cumberland County. Outterbridge’s D2B time was an incredible 12 minutes. A 90-minute D2B time has become a core quality measure for The Joint Commission.
It all started when Outterbridge suddenly became weak, started sweating and became short of breathe. The pain in this chest was unrelenting. A widower who lives alone, he called his neighbor to drive him to the hospital. When his neighbor arrived, could tell Outterbridge needed an ambulance and called 911.
First responders from Fayetteville Fire Department’s Station 8 arrived first. Shortly thereafter, EMS arrived and paramedics hooked the patient up to the 12-lead EKG at 1:22 p.m. The Emergency Department physician could see the EKG in real time, and a code STEMI was called at 1:23 p.m. The paramedics began treatment en route to the hospital, giving the patient an aspirin and oxygen.