Heart attack patients speed through ER

By Elizabeth Temple - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) – When it comes to heart attacks, time is muscle.

"Can't tell you how many patients in my career I've had come in with a heart attack who actually die in front of me where it would've been totally different if I'd seen them five minutes sooner," said Dr. Robert Anderson, Emergency Room Physician at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital.

A new system at LCMH lets EMS officials take an accurate heart scan of a patient in the ambulance. They then send the scan to the emergency room, which Dr. Anderson says can save him up to 30 minutes.

"A difference between life and death," he said.

Once a patient is inside the ambulance, the EMS team must figure out if the patient is currently having a heart attack by using a mobile EKG scan. This is where the technology comes in, it is called LifeNet and Dr. Anderson even gets the EKG results sent straight to his phone.

"They are starting to use it in many areas but to be honest with you not many places have it yet," said Dr. Fernando Ruiz, Cardiologist at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital.

Both doctors agree that speed is crucial for serious heart attack patients.

"The sooner you can open that blockage in your heat the less damage there's going to be so its all about how fast we can do our job," said Dr. Anderson.

This system mainly helps people with ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), heart attacks that block blood flow to the heart. The American Heart Association estimates nearly 400,000 Americans experience STEMI every year.

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