Westlake, OH – It was a beautiful, spring morning in May and 68-year old Dave Preston was enjoying the day golfing at a local course. However, after playing a few holes, Dave started feeling slight chest discomfort, what he believed was indigestion. Thinking it was just heartburn, he kept playing.
But, by the time Dave finished his 18 holes, he knew something wasn’t quite right. He had suffered a heart attack in 1993 and the symptoms he was experiencing were becoming all too familiar. He quickly drove to his North Ridgeville home where he took his blood pressure and discovered it, along with his heart rate, was elevated. Alarmed, he called his cardiologist’s office and they recommended he immediately head for St. John West Shore Hospital’s Emergency Department.
Dave made it to the end of his driveway before the pressure and pain in his arm and chest intensified to the point where he could no longer drive. He called North Ridgeville EMS. Within minutes, North Ridgeville Emergency Medical Paramedics were at his home hooking him up to lifesaving 12-lead EKG equipment that began transmitting critical data back to St. John West Shore Hospital’s new LIFENET Receiving Station.
As part of their ongoing commitment to healthcare excellence, the hospital recently became the first hospital on Cleveland’s west side to purchase and implement the 12-Lead EKG equipment and purchase a LIFENET Receiving Station. This allows local EMS to transmit real time 12-lead EKG data from the field in order to save valuable evaluation, diagnosis and treatment time in cardiac emergencies.
As the ambulance carrying Dave rushed to the hospital, Roy Seitz, MD, Medical Director of the St. John West Shore Emergency Department, received real-time 12-lead EKG data from the North Ridgeville paramedics. By providing Dr. Seitz with literally 12 different views of Dave’s heart, Dr. Seitz was able to diagnose Dave before he even arrived at the hospital. In fact, Dave virtually bypassed the Emergency Department, spending about only 13 minutes there before he was quickly admitted into the hospital’s Catheterization Laboratory. There, he was successfully treated for a one-hundred percent blockage of the Left Anterior Descending Artery and subsequently hospitalized for three days before being released.
“The real time information we received was critical in order for us to fully assess the situation and determine how to best prepare the Catheterization Laboratory for Dave,” said Dr. Roy Seitz. “Even though our transport times are relatively short, the advanced field evaluation that the 12-Lead EKG equipment and North Ridgeville paramedics provided saved us a significant amount of time when diagnosing and ultimately treating him. In Dave’s case, it meant that his door-to-therapy time was only 13 minutes, which helped save his life.”
Dave agrees. “I’m extremely grateful and fortunate that St. John West Shore Hospital is always looking for ways to provide better patient care. I credit Dr. Seitz, North Ridgeville EMS and the 12-Lead EKG equipment used that day with helping save my life.”
A number of Cleveland’s east-side hospitals have had 12-lead EKG technology in the field; as have hospitals in other major Ohio cities, such as Columbus, Cincinnati and Akron. That’s because their average emergency transport time is as much as twice as long as what is experienced on the west side (which is, on average, only five to six minutes). Until recently, national guidelines indicated that this short transport period was not sufficient to warrant the financial investment in 12-lead EKG technology in the field.
It was St. John West Shore Hospital’s Medical Director of Non-Invasive Cardiology, Dr. Atul Hulyalkar, who first became aware of the recently revised criteria and signaled the need for the field technology to hospital management. Until now, west-side emergency field personnel relied on two lead rhythm strips to assess the acuteness of a patient’s condition.
Now, communities benefiting from the new 12-lead EKG initiative at St. John Medical Center include North Ridgeville, Westlake and other surrounding West side communities and eastern Lorain County communities.
According to the American Journal of Cardiology, acute myocardial infarction (an occlusion that blocks blood flow to the heart) is the leading cause of death for adults in the U.S. More than five million Americans enter hospitals each year with chest pain. Of those, approximately 600,000 will die annually from heart disease. The blocked artery must be opened in order to restore blood flow. Until such time, valuable heart muscle continues to be damaged.
The American College of Cardiology and The American Heart Association guidelines suggest best standard for restoring blood to the heart is 90 minutes (door to balloon time). With the information obtained by real time EKG’s, St. John West Shore Hospital can potentially reduce this time to less than 60 minutes.
The purchase of the new LIFENET Receiving Station and EMS equipment was made possible by hospital support, EMS local communities, and the fundraising efforts at last year’s St. John Medical Center Festival of the Arts. These combined efforts allowed the purchase of 12-lead EKG equipment to 10 communities.