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WMHS Launches Award-Winning Cardiac Program

A heart attack can strike at any moment. It is important to call 911 as soon as someone starts exhibiting signs and symptoms of a myocardial infarction (MI).

“Calling 911 for emergency assistance is extremely important to saving heart muscle,” said Western Maryland Health System (WMHS) Cardiac Program Data Analyst, Pamela Hetrick. “Every minute that can be saved from heart muscle death, is shown to decrease the risk of death and improve the heart’s ability to pump.”

For patients in Allegany and Mineral County, calling 911 to engage local emergency paramedics during an MI is the first step in connecting to an award-winning program at WMHS, known as “Door-to-Balloon” (D2B), which is specifically designed to treat Mis and reduce permanent heart muscle damage.

“WMHS has accomplished a D2B time of 90 minutes or less for the past few years, 100 percent of the time,” Hetrick said.

D2B is a nationally recognized standard of care. Any patient that arrives at the WMHS Emergency Department (ED) “door” with an acute heart attack or acute myocardial infarction will move from the ED as quickly as possible to the cardiac catheterization lab. There they will have the artery in their heart opened by a “balloon” in 90 minutes or less, which is proven to prevent death.

“One call activates the entire catheterization lab team,” Hetrick said. “Our community’s emergency responders do a phenomenal job of accurately determining when the cardiac catheterization team is needed. In addition to our ED physicians and staff, the cardiologists and catheterization lab staff are all a part of this intricate team.”

To speed patient arrival to the cardiac catheterization lab, Hetrick said the WMHS multidisciplinary committee implemented strategies suggested by the American College of Cardiology (ACC). One initiative includes ensuring the catheterization team is ready for the patient within 30 minutes of receiving catheterization lab activation and the call to activate the catheterization team often comes from emergency responders.

Adhering to the national guidelines for D2B developed by the ACC and the AHA (American Heart Association) is an organizational challenge, but the team at WMHS works tirelessly to ensure every patient experiencing heart attack symptoms gets the expert care they need as fast as possible.

For more information on the D2B initiative at Western Maryland Health Service, please contact Pamela Hetrick at 240-964-3739.