New equipment approved for heart attack victims


Eight hospitals in Santa Clara County, including Stanford Hospital, will receive new equipment that can save people when they are having hearts attacks.

County supervisors on Tuesday approved implementing a comprehensive cardiac care system that will designate the local hospitals as those that can perform life-saving emergency services on heart attack patients.

The comprehensive cardiac care system would designate the hospitals as ST-Segment Elevation Myocardial Infarction, or STEMI, receiving centers capable of performing an emergency cardiac catheterization method known as percutaneous coronary intervention, a procedure used to reopen clogged arteries.

Receiving this procedure, which uses a catheter threaded into the coronary artery to open the blockage, within 90 minutes of arrival at a hospital is believed to result in a 38 percent reduction in the risk of death, second heart attack, or stroke, as compared with the use of clot-busting drugs.

By identifying the hospitals as receiving centers paramedics can transport those patients identified as having a myocardial infarction, or heart attack, to those hospitals for the emergency care.

"Heart disease is a killer and for many there are no signs until they experience a heart attack. The board of supervisors believes the comprehensive cardiac care system will be instrumental in improving the treatment of individuals suffering from heart attacks," Liz Kniss, supervisor and chair of the board's health and hospital committee, said.

About 450 emergency 911 calls for suspected heart attacks were responded to according to the county's ambulance transport data. Of those, 10 to 15 patients per month were identified by paramedics as STEMI, or those heart attacks caused by a sudden coronary blockage, according to the county

STEMI receiving centers would be required to hold the capability of performing cardiac catheterization on heart attack patients, as well as meet a number of other criteria.

In addition to Stanford, the other hospitals interested in receiving the equipment are El Camino Hospital, Good Samaritan Hospital, Kaiser Permanente Medical Center-Santa Clara, O'Connor Hospital, Kaiser Permanente Medical Center-Santa Teresa Hospital, Regional Medical Center of San Jose and Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.

The cardiac care system would include pre-hospital screening and transportation procedures to help transport those patients suspected of having a heart attack to a designated center.

It is expected the system will be implemented by mid-summer by the Santa Clara County Public Health Department's Emergency Medical Services Agency.

— Bay City News Service

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