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When time is muscle

A sustained effort to improve care for heart attacks has slashed time-to-treatment at JPS to as little as 21 minutes — the fastest door-to-balloon time in 2017. It happened twice.

Even average door-to-balloon time, 57 minutes, came in significantly under the American Heart Association’s 90-minute national standard for hospitals.

“Twenty-one minutes is incredible,” said Cardiologist Paul Bhella, MD, director of cardiac imaging at JPS. What it means, he said, is that the ambulance crew performed an EKG while transporting the patient and communicated the results effectively with the Emergency Department, which in turn alerted Invasive Labs to the impending arrival of a patient who would likely need cardiac catheterization. “It requires incredible synchronization between emergency medical services, the emergency room and the cath lab,” said Bhella.

Heart attacks occur when the heart is deprived of oxygen by a blocked blood vessel. Permanent damage can only be avoided if blood flow can be restored before muscle cells die. No amount of treatment will bring them back to life.

The processes now in place to ensure rapid treatment are the work of the AMI Task Force at JPS, which  brings together team members from across the hospital. The collaboration led to AMI certification by The Joint Commission in 2016, recognizing John Peter Smith Hospital’s ability to provide best-available care for heart attacks.