It can happen on an ordinary day. Perhaps you are at home watching a movie with your spouse or out in the yard playing with the dog. You feel a squeezing pressure in the center of your chest. At first you think it might be heartburn … but could it be a heart attack?
Take no chances. When you experience chest pain, time is everything. If that discomfort is a heart attack, a quick diagnosis can mean the difference between life and death. The faster treatment can begin, the greater your chances of survival.
Every year, more than 5 million Americans go to the hospital with chest pain. Not every case turns out to be a heart attack, but that diagnosis needs to be made as quickly as possible. Botsford Hospital responded to this need by becoming a chest pain center. We were the first hospital in southeastern Michigan to earn full accreditation from the Society of Chest Pain Centers (SCPC).Accredited chest pain centers focus on teamwork. Our team is a group of specialists, including Botsford emergency medicine physicians, cardiologists and nurses, as well as local emergency medical services (EMS). If your chest pain is a heart attack, these experts are already connected so that treatment can start quickly. It’s not just a faster process; Botsford follows SCPC standards for the very best in care during a heart attack.
How Heart Attacks Happen
A heart attack occurs when blood flow to part of the heart is severely reduced or stopped. The reduction or stoppage happens when one or more of the arteries supplying blood to the heart are blocked. Usually this is caused by the buildup of fatty deposits known as plaque.Heart attack symptoms can include:
Stopping Heart Attacks in their Tracks
Botsford’s team approach to treating chest pain begins at the earliest possible moment: while the patient is en route to the hospital. We’ve partnered with several area fire departments to ensure that EMS personnel can perform electrocardiograms (EKGs) in the ambulance and transmit heart data to the hospital.“Botsford views us as valued members of the health care team,” says Corey Bartsch, fire chief of the Farmington Hills Fire Department. “We have a close and long-standing relationship with Botsford. And because of this partnership, we’ve demonstrated a direct benefit to patients.”
Teamwork Leads to Quick Treatment
Because the EMS teams can evaluate chest pain while still in the field, we can activate our cardiac catheterization, or cath, lab much earlier, says Sanford Vieder, D.O., medical director of the Emergency Center at Botsford. The cath lab is where doctors visualize and treat heart problems. Available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the cath lab team arrives at Botsford within 30 minutes of being called to the hospital, says Dr. Vieder.
Botsford recently renovated the cath lab. New, state-of-the-art imaging equipment provides extremely clear views of the blood vessels inside and outside the heart. Cardiologists can quickly pinpoint the location of the blockages and begin treatment to clear the artery, a procedure called angioplasty.
Botsford physicians performed 58 emergency angioplasties in 2008. “Our numbers are very comparable to those of even larger hospitals in the area,” says Dr. Vieder. Another measure of quality is “door-to-balloon time.” That’s the amount of time from the patient’s arrival at the hospital until angioplasty begins. National recommendations say door-to-balloon time should not exceed 90 minutes. The average time at Botsford is 72 minutes. When the EMS team transmits an EKG, that time averages just 64 minutes, says Dr. Vieder.
Those minutes saved can mean lives saved, especially if you seek help for symptoms immediately. “The main message is: If you experience chest pain, don’t ignore it,” says Dr. Gadowski. “Get medical assistance right away. The quicker you get appropriate care, the better the outcome. And, Botsford is the place to be.”