|by Keith J. O'Connor | February 12, 2009
For heart attack patients, that can mean the difference between life and death
It’s called "door-to-balloon." And those three little words have big implications for patients when it means surviving a heart attack.
"Door-to-balloon" refers to the time from a heart attack patient's arrival at the hospital to the moment he or she receives often life-saving balloon angioplasty or coronary intervention. At Baystate Medical Center, a skilled team of physicians, nurses, EMTs and other caregivers is saving lives at an impressive pace.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, American College of Cardiology, American Heart Association and other groups have established 90 minutes or less as the optimal "door-to-balloon" time for heart attack patients, the interval in which they have the greatest chance of survival and the best outcomes.
At Baystate Medical Center, a team approach to accelerating treatment for patients who have a common type of heart attack--referred to as ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI)--has resulted in a "door-to-balloon" time of 65 minutes, meaning heart-attack patients receive life-saving balloon angioplasty up to 25 minutes sooner than national guideline recommendations. That exceptional time places Baystate Medical Center as one of the best performers in the state and in the top ten percent nationally as recognized by the National Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
National studies have shown that a greater number of lives are saved when heart-attack patients are quickly treated in a state-of-the-art cardiac catheterization laboratory with the capability to immediately open clogged arteries with angioplasty or stenting. In Western Massachusetts, Baystate Medical Center is the only hospital providing this vital technology and expertise.