First responders and hospital teamwork increases heart attack survival rates

First responders and hospitals teamwork improves a patient's odds of fully recovering from a heart attack by quick diagnosis and good communication.

By Heather Chadwick, Fire District 7 Public Information and Education Officer, June 12, 2019.

According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the leading cause of death in America. It claims 650,000 victims per year.

Heart attacks occur when an artery, or arteries in the heart are blocked; most often by a clot. When these arteries become blocked the patient suffers what we know as a “heart attack.” 

The longer the artery is blocked, the amount of damage to the heart muscle increases. This makes treatment of a heart attack a real race against the clock. Most hospitals have a goal of opening a blocked artery within 90 minutes of a patient arriving at the door of the Emergency Department.

Cardiologists open the artery by a procedure known as balloon angioplasty. This is where a thin catheter is threaded up to the blockage, and a balloon is inflated to restore the flow of blood to the heart. Often a device called a stent is placed to keep the artery open at the point of blockage. This allows the patient to recover from the heart attack.

Recently, Fire District 7 personnel were dispatched to a patient experiencing chest pain. The paramedics performed a 12-Lead ECG and diagnosed the patient with a heart attack. The patient was immediately loaded into the medic unit and transported to a hospital capable of treating the patient.

While transporting, paramedics called ahead to the hospital to alert the cardiology team of the incoming patient.

The patient arrived at the hospital and was quickly taken to the lab where the procedure to open the artery occurred.

Due to the teamwork of paramedics and the local hospital, from the time 911 was called, to the time the artery was open restoring blood to the oxygen starved heart, was only 83 minutes; exceeding the goal of 90 minutes.

This is the kind of team work that your paramedics and local hospitals have to improve a patient’s odds of fully recovering from a heart attack.

Some heart attacks are sudden and intense, but most start slowly. If you or a loved one experience heart attack symptoms it is important to call 911 early so that appropriate diagnosis and treatment can occur as fast as possible.

To learn more about the signs and symptoms of a heart attack visit the American Heart Association website,

Remember, time is muscle!

American Heat Association common heart attack warning signs. Image courtesy of American Heart Association.

American Heat Association common heart attack warning signs. Image courtesy of American Heart Association.


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