HOUSTON (December 09, 2009)

This fall, Pearland EMS responded to a suspected heart attack patient, resulting in door-to-balloon time rescue of 31 minutes. The Memorial Hermann Southeast Hospital Emergency Center was notified of the case, before the patient's arrival.

Door-to-balloon is a time measurement in emergency cardiac care (ECC), specifically in the treatment of ST segment elevation myocardial infarction (or STEMI). The interval starts with the patient's arrival in the emergency department, and ends when a catheter guidewire crosses the culprit lesion in the cardiac cath lab. Because every minute matters, specialists in cardiovascular care review every aspect of the treatment process - from patient arrival (door) to the start of treatment (balloon).

One of the most effective treatments for a heart attack is angioplasty, a procedure during which a small balloon is inflated to open blocked arteries. The blocked artery is opened with a balloon is called the "door to balloon" time. The lower the "door-to-balloon" time, the less muscle damage to the heart.

The Memorial Hermann Southeast Cath Lab staff (Sara Hensley RT, Keri Whitney RN, Ana Thompson RT, Carlton Silvey RN) and Dr. Raj Kadakia, Cardiologist affiliated with Memorial Hermann Southeast, were notified of the incoming patient at 1819.

The patient arrived to the emergency center via Pearland EMS ambulance at 1840. Because of the early notification the cardiologist was present, in addition to the emergency room physician, when the patient arrived. Dr. Kadakia preformed surgery to open up the blocked artery at 1911, relieving the patient of his symptoms. The patient had a successful recovery and was discharged two days later.

The national standard for opening blocked arteries in the heart is 90 minutes from the time of the arrival of the patient at the facility to the time that the artery is opened up. In this case, the time of arrival of the patient was 1840 and the artery was opened at 1911. This "door-to-balloon" time was 31 minutes, which is a Southeast record for the fastest time on "off-hours" procedures.

This was only possible by the rapid response and early notification of the Pearland EMS crew. Memorial Hermann Southeast salutes Pearland EMS for their efficient performance and cooperation.

The first signs of a heart attack set off a risky race against time. With each passing minute, the heart muscle is damaged further, and the patient's condition becomes more dangerous. Memorial Hermann has devoted considerable effort and resources to reduce the time to initiation for direct angioplasty for patients with acute myocardial infarction.