Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for almost 400,000 deaths per year. Cardiovascular disease causes strokes and heart attacks.
Doctors who treat Stroke Patients say “time is tissue.” Quick diagnosis and treatment can save precious brain tissue. For Heart Attack Patients “time is muscle.” Again, quick diagnosis can not only prevent damage to the heart, but can save a life.
Since we know that time is critical, hospitals have established protocols to treat an incoming heart attack patient. Thus, the death rate for heart attack victims has dropped 38% in the past decade. A heart attack occurs when an artery becomes blocked, and blood cannot flow. Accordingly, the key has been reducing the time it takes to clear a blockage in a patient’s arteries and get blood flowing again to the heart.
Much the same way hospitals have stroke protocols, they also have heart attack protocols. The protocol can start with a phone call to the hospital Emergency room by fire rescue which will then set off a code throughout the hospital requiring a team to meet an incoming patient in the emergency room. The team usually consists of a cardiologist and an interventional cardiologists
The way to save the heart is to open the blocked artery by pushing in a catheter, inflating a tiny balloon that shoves the blockage aside, and holding the artery open by inserting a stent. The goal as set by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association was to get this done within 90 minutes of arrival at a hospital. Currently hositals are getting blood flowing again within 60 minutes. Thus, if a doctor or hospital fails to diagnose a heart attack and respond in a timely fashion, the treatment or lack thereof may be medical malpractice.