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Aug 28 2015
When Time is Muscle

When having a heart attack, every second counts. It’s important to get to a hospital, fast! Heart attacks occur when there is plaque build-up in the arteries. This makes it difficult for blood to flow to the heart and typically blocks the artery completely. If blood flow isn’t restored, the heart muscle tissue begins to die without oxygen. 
Heart disease is the leading cause of death of both men and women in the United States. The good news is that early treatments for a heart attack can prevent or limit damage to the heart muscle if individuals seek medical attention early. It’s important to know the signs and symptoms of a heart attack which include tightness or pain in the chest, neck, back, or arms, as well as fatigue, nausea, shortness of breath, and excessive sweating. 

The emergency procedure performed in an effort to limit damage from the heart attack is called angioplasty. An angioplasty twists a little balloon up through the blood vessel and inflates at the site of the blockage, squishing the obstruction up against the walls of the artery, typically leaving behind a metal scaffold called a stent, restoring normal blood flow. The longer one waits before having an angioplasty, the more the heart tissue is permanently damaged. 

Cardiologists have coined a phrase about heart attacks - “time is muscle”. The goal is to encourage medical providers to reduce “door-to-balloon time,” which is the moment when a heart attack patient arrives at the hospital, to when the artery gets opened up. 

The American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA) have established that door-to-balloon time should occur in 90 minutes or less. HFM’s door-to-balloon times have been as short as 11 minutes.

HFM provides emergency heart attack care around the clock, every day of the year. We have a dedicated group of nurses, technicians, and cardiologists, supported by a committed team from emergency room staff, to administrators, switchboard and security staff. As a cardiologist at HFM Heart & Vascular Center, I am very proud to be a part of such a cohesive group whose goals are to provide the best and most expeditious heart care for our community.

The cardiovascular emergency care at HFM is unique for a community of our size. We are the only healthcare provider in Manitowoc and Sheboygan Counties to have a cardiac catheterization laboratory that is capable of delivering timely and high-quality emergency cardiac care around-the-clock 24 hours, 7 days a week. Our strong partnership with local EMS (emergency medical service) systems, has helped us fast-track heart attack patients right to our doors, enabling our timeliness. 

HFM has been nationally recognized for our work by both the AHA and the ACC for fast, skilled response to treating heart attack patients. This August, HFM was honored with the Mission: Lifeline® Gold Plus Receiving Center award. Such centers receive patients in transfer from other hospitals who are to undergo emergency angioplasty to stop a heart attack in its tracks.  

In addition, the ACC and the National Cardiac Data Registry (NCDR) awarded HFM the ACTION Registry–GWTG Platinum Performance Achievement Award for 2015. We are amongst the top 100 hospitals in the nation with 1200 hospitals participating in this registry. 

Many large and well-known academic medical centers have not been capable of achieving the door-to-balloon time and quality goals that we have; we are being consulted by much larger governmental and individual hospital systems in and out of state to help them develop their programs for acute heart attack care.

HFM’s cardiovascular services success is really a success for the community. Not all hospitals are able to do emergency angioplasties 24/7, so where you are taken when you have a heart attack matters. As the only acute heart attack receiving center between Green Bay and Grafton, our emergency heart attack success could not have been achieved without much hard work on the part of our team members, and our mentoring partnerships with local emergency medical services (EMS) agencies. 

Dr. Michael Rosenberg is a cardiologist at HFM Heart & Vascular Center.


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