Fast "Door to Balloon Time" Saves Woman

By Britney Glaser - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Time is muscle when a person is having a heart attack.  Every minute that ticks by means more heart muscle damage. In this Healthcast, we show us how one local hospital set a record for treating heart attack patients.

Would you know the signs of having a heart attack?  For Dana Heyd, a typical day at the office turned into an unexpected medical emergency when she began feeling odd.  "I was at work, had just walked back to my office, sat down at my computer and was working," says Dana, "I just started feeling that my chest was tightening, my arms went numb from the elbows down, both of them went numb."

Dana called a co-worker and within minutes found herself inside an ambulance.  "Really I'm just thinking indigestion," she says, "I really had no idea. They kept saying something was wrong with my heart, I didn't feel it. I didn't feel like anything was wrong."

Once Dana arrived at CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital, the medical staff wasted no time in getting her in the door and to the cardiac cath lab.  "I think there were like eight people in and out," says Dana, "nurses, doctors, the next thing I know, Dr. White was down there and he was telling me that I had a heart attack and I had a blockage."

Within 20 minutes of arriving at the hospital, cardiologist Dr. King White and his medical staff had Dana's blocked artery open again.  "When a person is having a heart attack, their artery in their heart is blocked," says Dr. White, "the quicker we get it opened up, the less the damage there is to the heart."

Nationwide, what is known as "door to balloon time" or the amount of time it takes for a person having a heart attack to have a balloon across their artery is three hours. For the state of Louisiana, CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital has the fastest time at 57 minutes.  "when a patient comes into the emergency room, it's very important to get the artery opened up very quickly with the balloon angioplasty, because time is muscle," says Dr. White.

With the 20 minute door to balloon time for Dana, her valuable heart muscle and life was saved, thanks to the quick response of Dr. White and the staff at St. Pat's.  "You don't expect for something like that to happen to you until it does," says Dana, "I just am lucky enough to be able to thank the person that saved my life."

*Dr. White says if you feel chest pain, pressure in your chest, shortness of breath or numbness - these could be signs of a heart attack and you should seek immediate medical attention.