When It Comes to Heart Attack, Minutes Matter

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When It Comes to Heart Attack, Minutes Matter

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Ambulance

Thanks to the help of Dubuque Fire Department, UnityPoint Health – Finley Hospital’s Heart and Vascular Center has a new record door to balloon time – 14 minutes.

In the event of a heart attack, every second counts. The longer the heart goes without oxygen rich blood, the more damage is done to the heart muscle. At Finley Hospital, the Heart and Vascular Center team works on processes and procedures that result in getting patients the quality care they need – quickly.

A door to balloon time is a quality measure tracked from the patient’s arrival at the hospital until angioplasty is performed. The American Heart Association recommends 90 minutes or less for door to balloon time. Finley is consistently faster than the recommendation and strives for a door to balloon time of less than 60 minutes. And in many cases, the door to balloon time is less than 30 minutes.

“We are very thankful to our EMS partners who have a big role in reducing the door to balloon times for our patients,” explains Andrea Anglin, director of cardiovascular services at UnityPoint Health – Finley Hospital. "All of the EMS providers are equipped with technology that allows patient health information to be sent to the cath lab prior to the patient’s arrival – so when the ambulance arrives, we can focus on treatment versus assessment.”

In this record setting case, Dubuque Fire Department responded to a 911 call at 7:33 a.m. A few minutes later, emergency responders made the call to Finley with the patient’s condition – which put the cath lab team into motion.

“When we get the phone call from an EMS partner, we start preparing immediately. If we have all of the necessary health vitals during transport, we can bypass the emergency department and go immediately to Finley’s cath lab to open the clogged artery,” says Anglin.

The ambulance arrived at Finley at 8:03 a.m. and just a minute later the patient was in the cath lab. At 8:17 a.m., the device was in place via the radial artery – which means a procedure with less complications, less discomfort and faster recovery. 

“Door to balloon time is something we pay close attention to at Finley,” says Anglin. “The faster we open the blockage, the sooner we get good blood flow restored, and that means less damage to the heart muscle. We are thankful to our EMS partners for their role in delivering the best outcome for every patient, every time.”

Anglin adds, “If you are experiencing the signs and symptoms of a heart attack, call 911 – it can result in precious time for getting blood and oxygen back to your heart.”