Arrive Alive: Call 9-1-1 for Heart Attack Symptoms

woman tapping 911 on her phone

he fastest and safest way to get heart attack treatment is by calling 9-1-1.

Heart Attack 101

A heart attack occurs when blood flow to the heart becomes blocked. Unable to get oxygen, the heart muscle begins to die. The sooner blocked arteries are opened through cardiac catheterization (coronary angioplasty), the less damage to the heart.

Time Matters

The time from when a patient enters the hospital to when emergency angioplasty opens the blocked artery is known as "first medical contact to balloon inflation time." Doylestown Health's 56-minute average is well ahead of the national 90-minute standard, and calling 9-1-1 expedites the process.

Doylestown Hospital patients arriving by ambulance had balloon angioplasty 23 minutes faster than patients arriving in a personal car.

Doylestown Health is committed to working with local ambulance squads to constantly improve the time it takes for patients to receive life-saving care. "The ambulance crew is able to assess patients, insert IVs, perform electrocardiograms (EKG) and preliminary treatments.

They transmit EKG results from the field and alert the hospital – all while transporting the patient to the Emergency Department," explains Elaine Schultheiss, RN, BSN, CEN, the hospital's chest pain/AFib coordinator.

"This saves valuable time by initiating early activation of the Cardiac Catheterization Lab for emergency angioplasty," says Elaine. "And, if a patient goes into cardiac arrest, the ambulance crew provides life-saving CPR and defibrillator capabilities."

Don't Wait to Call 9-1-1

"Last year, half of Doylestown Health's heart attack patients arrived by ambulance, waiting an average of 130 minutes before calling 9-1-1," explains Elaine. "Unfortunately, every minute of delay equals more damaged heart muscle, so when in doubt it's safer to call 9-1-1 immediately."

Know Heart Attack Warning Signs

Chest discomfort may feel like pressure, squeezing, pain or fullness in the center of the chest. Call 9-1-1 for chest discomfort with or without other symptoms.

According to the American Heart Association, heart attack symptoms, which can be sudden or appear gradually over time, include:

  • Chest discomfort or pain
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body
  • Shortness of breath or trouble breathing
  • Other signs such as sweating, nausea or lightheadedness

Achiness may occur in the jaw, shoulders, neck, back or arms. Women and diabetics may experience atypical symptoms including back or jaw pain and shortness of breath, notes Elaine.

Heart Attack Care at Doylestown Health

Doylestown Health's Woodall Chest Pain Center is fully prepared to treat cardiac emergencies around the clock. Focusing on rapid diagnosis and effective treatment, the Woodall Chest Pain Center is dually accredited by the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA), denoting a higher level of expertise in dealing with patients who arrive with symptoms of a heart attack.

CALL 9-1-1 FIRST in the event of a medical emergency, especially if heart attack or stroke is suspected!


About Doylestown Health's Heart & Vascular Services

Expert cardiologists and cardiac surgeons assist patients and physicians with managing risk factors for heart disease, offer advanced treatment options and provide outstanding emergency cardiac care. Doylestown Hospital’s accredited Chest Pain Center is fully prepared to treat cardiac emergencies around the clock, focusing on rapid diagnosis and effective treatment. The multidisciplinary team at the Woodall Center for Heart and Vascular Care is dedicated to providing the highest level of quality care and patient safety.

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