Patient rushed to treatment room

Rapid response to heart attacks saves lives

The American Heart Association has awarded Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System (SRHS) for its quick treatment of heart attack patients with the Mission: Lifeline® Gold Receiving Quality Achievement Award.

SRHS earned the award by meeting high standards for the quick and appropriate treatment of STEMI, a type of serious heart attack that completely blocks blood flow to the heart.

“We're honored to accept this award,” said Jennifer T. Smith, MSN, RN and Spartanburg Medical Center Chest Pain Center Coordinator. “We continue to collaborate with our community members to educate them about cardiac symptoms so a patient can get to the hospital in a timely manner.”

Beginning with the patient's call of 9-1-1 to start the process, SRHS provides emergency treatment to re-establish blood flow through blocked arteries. Emergency medical technicians are trained to perform electrocardiograms (EKGs) in the field to determine if the patient is having a heart attack. If a heart attack is detected, the hospital is contacted to assemble its team of heart catheterization lab staff, an interventional cardiologist, and the Coronary Care Unit staff to prepare to treat the patient upon arrival.

“One of our biggest challenges is to educate the public on the signs and symptoms of a heart attack,” Smith said. “We encourage them to call 911 for an ambulance so they can be treated immediately.”

Arriving heart attack patients avoid the emergency room and are taken directly to treatment, which includes either operating to clear the arteries, or medication. “This decreases treatment time and improves outcomes,” Smith said.

Winners of the Lifeline Gold Award are tracked through a data registry that recognizes hospitals that treat STEMI, or St-segment elevation myocardial infarction, through a number of measures over time. Eligible hospitals must meet a set level of these measures for a designated period of time to receive the award.

“It's something that we work on every day,” Smith said of STEMI treatment. “We look at how we can tweak different parts of the process to make it optimal for our patients so they can get the best, highest-quality care in the timeliest fashion.”

The goal of the AHA's Mission: Lifeline® program is to reduce barriers to prompt treatment for heart attack patients, beginning with the 9-1-1 call through the continuum of care.