Loyola University Medical Center has received the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline® Silver Receiving Quality Achievement Award, which recognizes Loyola’s commitment and success in implementing an exceptional standard of care for heart attack patients.
Each year in the United States nearly 300,000 people suffer the most severe type of heart attack, known as a ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI). A STEMI occurs when a blood clot completely blocks an artery to the heart causing heart muscle to die. But damage can be minimized by quickly opening the artery with a coronary angioplasty and stent placement or clot-busting medication.
Loyola, located in Maywood, Ill., is the only hospital in the state to have an interventional cardiologist, nurses and technicians on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide emergency angioplasties.
National guidelines say hospitals should strive to perform angioplasties within 90 minutes of a patient’s arrival at the emergency room door, or faster if possible. (In an angioplasty, the clogged coronary artery is reopened by inflating a small balloon.) At Loyola, the Heart Attack Rapid Response Team’s "door-to-balloon" time averaged 56 minutes in 2012, and 54 minutes during the first half of 2013. All cases in both years were performed in under 90 minutes.
"Time equals heart muscle," said Dr. Fred Leya, medical director of interventional cardiology. "The faster we can open a clogged artery, the better the patient will do. If we can reopen the artery within 60 minutes, there will be minimal damage. Our goal is to perform angioplasties within this Golden Hour."
Hospitals involved in the heart association’s Mission: Lifeline are part of a system that ensures STEMI patients receive the right care, as quickly as possible. Mission: Lifeline focuses on improving the system of care for STEMI patients and all other heart attack patients.
Loyola meets high standards of performance in quick and appropriate treatment of STEMI patients. Before patients are discharged, they are started on aggressive risk-reduction therapies such as cholesterol-lowering drugs, aspirin, ACE inhibitors and beta blockers. They also receive smoking cessation counseling if needed. Hospitals must adhere to these guideline-based measures at a set level for a designated period of time to be eligible for the heart association’s achievement awards.