Winter 2013 - code stemiHarrison's rapid response for heart attack patients
One phone call can save your life—literally.

For years, we've been urged to call 911 at the first warning signs of a heart attack, yet many still choose to either drive to the hospital, or wait to see if the symptoms disappear. But did you know that an emergency response to a heart attack starts with a call to 911?

Each year, more than 250,000 Americans suffer an ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), the deadliest type of heart attack. A STEMI is caused by sudden and prolonged blockage of the blood supply to the heart, and can result in permanent damage to the heart muscle if not treated immediately.

At Harrison Medical Center, a specially trained team coordinates with 911 emergency responders—who may perform an EKG en route—to enable quick treatment of a possible heart attack, especially a STEMI.

“When an EKG reveals a patient is having a STEMI heart attack, doctors want to get the artery opened as quickly as possible to reduce heart muscle damage,” says Kim Robbins, RN, Harrison’s AMI/STEMI coordinator. A call by emergency responders to the emergency department enables Harrison’s care team to activate their Code STEMI emergency treatment process before the patient arrives. “Time lost is heart muscle lost, so Harrison’s door-to-balloon time [the time between a patient’s arrival to the time the blockage is open] is vital.”

Harrison’s door-to-balloon time is significantly below the American College of Cardiology’s recommendation of 90 minutes. “Patients who receive this kind of prompt treatment are more likely to survive a heart attack,” says Kim.
Warning signs of a heart attack
While men and women may experience symptoms differently, the following signs and symptoms may indicate a heart attack:
  • Discomfort in the chest, radiating to arms, back, jaw
  • Shortness of breath
  • Unusual fatigue
  • Indigestion or abdominal pain
  • Dizziness, nausea, or a cold sweat
  • Rapid, irregular heartbeats or anxiety