Medical procedure surpasses national standard

This is the “cath lab” where the Holzer heart team performs STEMI procedures, a form of emergency treatment to enlarge a blood vessel and allow blood to pass to the heart when a blockage has prompted a heart attack.

GALLIPOLIS — A Holzer Health System Code STEMI team recently exceeded national standards in invasive medical procedures.

According to information from Holzer Health System, a patient last month entered the Meigs County Emergency Department of Holzer Health Systems with crushing chest pain. Health care professionals said the individual was suffering from a STEMI heart attack.

STEMI stands for “ST-segment elevation myocardial infarcation.” In this type of heart attack, a coronary artery is virtually blocked completely by a blood clot. Once this happens, the heart muscle being provided with blood starts to die. It is therefore of the utmost importance to resupply blood to the affected area as quickly as possible.

The Meigs Emergency Department called Holzer’s Code STEMI team and transported the patient to the Holzer campus in Gallipolis. Dr. Robert Bradley, intervention cardiologist with the Holzer Cardiovascular Institute, opened the blocked artery with the help of the cardiovascular team by performing a stent procedure in the catheterization lab to return blood to the patient’s heart.

From the time of the patient’s arrival at the Meigs Emergency Department, medical professionals performed the stent within 73 minutes. Professional medical core measurements dictate the standard practice for such a procedure be less than 120 minutes without a catheterization lab. The American College of Cardiology sets the best practice standard for such a stent procedure at less than 90 minutes. Holzer officials said the procedure was performed 47 minutes faster than the core measurement and 27 minutes faster than best practice.

According to Dr. Bradley, one of the focuses of such a procedure is on something called “door-to-balloon time.”

“Door meaning the time that the patient first enters the emergency department until an artery is opened up,” Bradley said.

The procedure used to save the patient’s heart utilizes a small cut in either the leg, groin or wrist where a catheter is then inserted with a stent on the end. The catheter is then guided toward the blood clot. Once near the targeted area, the stent is expanded with a balloon to open the pathway for blood to travel back into the heart. Blockages can then potentially be sucked out with tubes and other medical tools.

Bradley said the average time for such procedures with the heart team had been averaging around 44 minutes, far below the recommended procedural time lengths.

Medical professionals also said Jackson EMS also transported a patient to the hospital in Gallipolis within the last two weeks. Because EMS had been trained in testing methods with an EKG — otherwise known an electrocardiogram — the patient was able to bypass the emergency room and be taken directly to the catheterization lab. There, medical professionals performed a similar operation that resulted in a nine-minute time window in which the patient entered medical facilities before having blood restored to his heart.

Members and leaders of the team involved with Code STEMI are listed as Tim Casto, cardiovascular technologist with the Holzer Cardiovascular Institute; Dr. Robert Bradley, interventional cardiologist with Holzer Cardiovascular Institute; David Fields, chief nursing officer with Holzer Health System; Amy Showalter, chief nursing officer with Holzer Health System; Patty Hightower, interim director of emergency services with Holzer Health System; and Tara Salyers, Emergency Department manager with the Holzer-Gallipolis Medical Center.

Dean Wright can be contacted at (740) 446-2342, Ext. 2103.