During a Heart Attack, Time Saved is Muscle Saved

Two patients experiencing a heart attack in September benefited from exceptional teamwork between doctors, nurses, first responders and others at Hartford Hospital. Thanks to their efforts, both patients made it from the front door to the cardiac cath lab in less than ten minutes, beating American Heart Association guidelines by more than 90 percent.

Because delays in treating a heart attack increase cardiac muscle damage, time is muscle. That’s why the Association recommends a ‘door-to-balloon’ time of 90 minutes or less for heart attacks with ST segment elevation (also known as STEMI). Door-to-balloon time is a way to measure how much time has elapsed between when the patient arrives in the emergency department and when a catheter guidewire crosses the culprit lesion in the cardiac cath lab.

On average, less than half of STEMI patients receive treatment within the recommended timeframe, and even hospitals in the 90th percentile have an average door-to-balloon time around 49 minutes. But the team at Hartford Hospital raised the bar by achieving a nine minute door-to-balloon time, and then raised it again with an eight minute door-to-balloon time just a couple weeks later.

The quick treatment times were the result of ongoing process improvements led by the Hartford HealthCare Heart & Vascular Institute at Hartford Hospital. Because every moment matters in these emergency situations, every person involved plays an important role in faster communication, diagnosis, transport, lab preparation, decision making and treatment. These outstanding results go a long way in helping improve quality of life for patients after a heart attack.