Time means muscle: WMC drastically cuts heart attack response times

By The Pulse Aug 5, 2013

Karl Wiscombe, 52, of Casper rests in the Wyoming Medical Center intensive care unit while recovering from a heart attack in July. (Star-Tribune photo by Alan Rogers)

Karl Wiscombe, 52, of Casper rests in the Wyoming Medical Center intensive care unit while recovering from a heart attack in July. (Star-Tribune photo by Alan Rogers)

Karl Wiscombe of Casper figures it took just around 18 minutes from the time he dialed 911 to the time a life-saving stent was installed in his heart vessel, allowing blood to flow through the muscle.

“They did an amazing job. I’m here alive because of it,” Wiscombe told Casper Star-Tribune reporter Josh Wolfson in an article today about our rapid response to heart attack patients.

Wyoming Medical Center now ranks in the 85th percentile in the country for response to heart attacks, including the most serious types of heart attacks, STEMIs – Segment Elevation Myocardial Infarction, like the one suffered by Wiscombe. The American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline protocol recommends a 90 minute door-to-balloon time – the time from when a patient comes in Emergency Room doors to the time a balloon is inflated in the blocked vessel.

WMC averaged 77 minutes two years ago. It averaged 48 minutes last year after doctors and the hospital worked to eliminate redundancies and inefficiencies in the treatment of heart attacks. Cardiologist Dr. Adrian Fluture expects that average to drop even more after more data comes in.

All of our ambulances are equipped with EKG machines that can remotely send test results to the ER doctors.  Those doctors can determine if a patient has indeed suffered a heart attack and, if so, can send the test results to a cardiologist’s cell phone. Cardiologists, then, can head to the hospital while the heart team here can prepare the Cath Lab. In Wiscombe’s case, he only stopped at the ER long enough for medical staff to remove his clothes, he told the Star-Tribune.

Read the entire Star-Tribune article here. You can also check out a recent Casper Journal article about our remote EKG machines here.

Call 911

If you think you are suffering a heart attack:

* DO NOT try to drive yourself to the hospital. If you lose consciousness or suffer another attack, you may wreck your car and further injure yourself or someone else.

* DO call 911 immediately. Wyoming Medical Center ambulances are mobile Emergency Medicine clinics. When paramedics reach you, they can administer IVs and aspirin, remove clothing and prep you for immediate admission to the hospital.

They will also send an EKG test to the hospital and doctors so they can prepare for treatment, often before you arrive at the hospital. This process can cut 10 to 20 minutes off door-to-balloon time, decreasing damage to heart tissue.

* DO NOT ask someone else to drive you to the hospital: No matter how close you live or how fast someone drives, having paramedics come to you shaves precious minutes off door-to-balloon time. Paramedics who come to you can start treatments and send word to prepare the hospital for your arrival. They can also take patients directly from the ambulance to the Cath Lab, without needing to stop in the ER while medical staff gets ready.

Adrian Fluture, M.D.

Adrian Fluture M.D., F.A.C.C., F.S.C.A.I.

Dr. Adrian Fluture specializes in cardiology, interventional cardiology, and vascular/endovascular medicine. He is Director of Regional Myocardial Infarction Care at Wyoming Medical Center. Dr. Fluture is board certified in internal medicine, cardiovascular disease, interventional cardiology, nuclear cardiology, echocardiography and vascular medicine, and CT angiography. He came to Casper in 2008 and practices at Wyoming Cardiopulmonary Services.

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