New Equipment Will Allow Heart Attack Victims To Receive Treatment Faster

June 18, 2008

Time is muscle. According to West University Place Fire Chief Steve Ralls, cardiologists use that saying when talking about heart attack victims – the longer it takes to get a catheter into a victim’s heart to restore blood flow, the more heart muscle is lost. The West U. Fire Department is in the process of buying equipment that can save victims valuable time by eliminating the emergency room portion of their treatment.

“That can take up to 30 minutes or longer generally,” said Ralls. “The time spent in the ER will just be erased, and the heart attack victim can get straight to the cath lab and get that procedure done quicker.”

The equipment includes a modem and software that allows the paramedic’s EKG readings to be transferred directly to the hospital, where a physician can review the data and determine if the patient is having a heart attack. If they are, the patient can go straight to the cath lab without stopping in the emergency room for additional EKGs.

“If you get them to the cath lab quicker, you generally end up with less damage to the heart,” said Ralls.

Ralls expects the equipment, at a cost of about $1,000 out of the fire department’s budget, to be in place and the fire department personal trained in the next four or five weeks. Ralls says not all hospitals are equipped with the ability to use this equipment, but he believes Memorial Hermann, Methodist and St. Luke’s are already on board.

“This is a pretty big deal,” said Ralls.

InstantNewsWestu Staff

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