Imagine holding your breath underwater. Now imagine that you couldn’t return to the surface. This is similar to what the heart experiences during an ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI).
STEMI is a type of heart attack that prevents a large portion of the heart muscle from receiving blood due to a blocked coronary artery. At a certain point, the lack of blood and oxygen will cause parts of the heart muscle to die.
“The longer the heart is starved for oxygen, the more muscle will be affected by the heart attack,” said Paula Fox, director of heart and vascular care at CHI Saint Joseph Health.
Quick treatment for STEMI to unblock arteries can help prevent lasting damage to the heart and result in better outcomes for patients. That’s why CHI Saint Joseph Health took part in the Regional Systems Accelerator II Project, led by Duke Clinical Research Institute and the American Heart Association.
As part of the project, CHI Saint Joseph Health implemented a STEMI alert system that helped streamline the process for recognizing and treating STEMI cases. It also required extra training for emergency medical services providers so they could administer care during ambulance rides to the hospital.
Since the system was implemented, the average time for patients to complete treatment has decreased from 78 minutes after arriving at the hospital to only 43 minutes after arriving.
Education initiatives have also helped the community recognize signs of heart attack, the importance of calling an ambulance and how to administer hands-free CPR during emergencies.