St. Joseph’s Hospital-North expands heart care services

When heart attacks happen, minutes matter.

And now, residents of Lutz, Land O’ Lakes and other nearby communities, including Keystone, Odessa, Northdale, New Tampa and Wesley Chapel, have a new option for treatment of a STEMI — which stands for ST elevated myocardial infarction.

That condition is one of the most deadly types of heart attacks and, as of Aug. 25, St. Joseph’s Hospital-North can treat patients suffering from a STEMI.

A STEMI occurs when there is prolonged blockage of blood supply to the heart. The optimal treatment method is PCI (percutaneous coronary intervention) to open the artery within 90 minutes of first receiving care by emergency medical personnel.

When someone arrives at St. Joseph’s Hospital-North with a STEMI (ST elevated myocardial infarction), this team of specialists springs into action to provide treatment. (Courtesy of St. Joseph's Hospital-North)

When someone arrives at St. Joseph’s Hospital-North with a STEMI (ST elevated myocardial infarction), this team of specialists springs into action to provide treatment.
(Courtesy of St. Joseph’s Hospital-North)

Since time translates into muscle loss, patients suffering a STEMI are taken to the closest hospital that can treat patients suffering from this type of heart attack, said Kathy Myers, director of operations for St. Joseph’s Hospital-North.

In the past, patients who brought themselves to St. Joseph’s North had to be taken by helicopter to St. Joseph’s main campus in Tampa for the treatment, Myers said.

Ambulance drivers who responded to emergencies would bypass St. Joseph’s North to take patients to the closest facility licensed to treat STEMI patients, Myers added.

Now, St. Joseph’s North has a team on hand, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to treat these patients.

Adding the service is a true milestone in the hospital’s five-year history, Myers said.

Treating STEMI patients at St. Joseph’s Hospital-North means faster care for patients in a situation where minutes matter, Myers said.

“When you have a STEMI, that lack of blood flow to the heart causes muscle loss,” Myers said. “Time is heart muscle. So, getting to the closest facility, and getting that intervention as quick as possible, saves heart muscle.”

Kathy Myers, director of operations for St. Joseph’s Hospital-North, said adding a service to treat STEMI (ST elevated myocardial infarction) is a milestone in the hospital’s five-year history. (B.C. Manion/Staff Photo)

Kathy Myers, director of operations for St. Joseph’s Hospital-North, said adding a service to treat STEMI (ST elevated myocardial infarction) is a milestone in the hospital’s five-year history.
(B.C. Manion/Staff Photo)

The St. Joseph’s Hospital-North STEMI team has been specially trained. There are 11 team members in the Cath lab and numerous other departments that interact with them.

All team members who work in the Cath lab need at least 500 hours of experience in a facility that does open-heart surgery, and many received training at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa and Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater, she said.

Another advantage of adding the service is that patients will be able to stay in their community hospital, rather than being transferred or taken elsewhere, Myers said.

Nationally, about 250,000 Americans suffer a STEMI each year, according to the American Heart Association.

On average, St. Joseph’s Hospital-North estimates it will treat about two STEMI cases a week as the program ramps up.

The hospital has analyzed the area’s health trends, Myers said.

It is seeing more women with cardiac problems.

“Women present with different symptoms. They sometimes don’t have that crushing pain in their chest. They have back pain. They have shoulder pain. Different kinds of symptoms,” said.

It is also seeing younger people with cardiac issues.

“We have a lot of 40-, 50-year-olds who are in very stressful jobs. And, people are getting younger that are coming in with cardiac history,” she said.

Contributing factors can include people’s diet and other medical conditions, such as diabetes and obesity, she said.

St. Joseph’s Hospital-North is one of six BayCare facilities that can treat STEMI patients.

Heart attack warning signs in men:

  • Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath, with or without chest discomfort.

Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

Heart attack warning signs in women:

  • Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach
  • Shortness of breath, with or without chest discomfort
  • Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness
  • As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.

Source: The American Heart Association

Published September 9, 2015

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