Section: News

St. Joseph Hospital Receives STEMI Designation for Treatment of Severe Heart Attacks

St. Joseph Hospital Receives STEMI Designation for Treatment of Severe Heart Attacks Eureka, CA (March 3, 2016) – The Heart Institute at St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka has officially been designated a STEMI Receiving Center for the treatment of severe heart attacks by North Coast Emergency Medical Services.

The recognition means that St. Joseph exceeds national standards in the time it takes to treat patients for ST Elevation Myocardial Infarctions, or severe heart attacks caused by a blocked artery. It also recognizes St. Joseph for being specially equipped to treat cardiac emergencies and for displaying a high-level of coordination between hospital personnel and first responders.

St. Joseph/Humboldt Medical Specialists Cardiologist Andrew Michaels, MD, stressed the importance of having a comprehensive team of medical professionals working together to ensure a successful outcome.

“First, the patient needs to recognize they may have a heart attack, and call 911. Next, the Emergency Medical Service personnel plays a vital role in quickly and safely stabilizing the patient and bringing the patient to a STEMI center,” Michaels said. “Finally, the cardiologist can make the diagnosis after reviewing the ECG, and get the artery open. Each of these three links needs to be strong to ensure a good outcome for the patient.”

Hospitals refer to the time it takes to treat a STEMI patient as “door to balloon” time. That’s the time it takes from the arrival of the patient in the emergency room to the catheterization lab where a balloon angioplasty is performed.

Guidelines developed over the past decade call for hospitals to meet a 90-minute or less door to balloon time. At St. Joseph Hospital, the door to balloon time is well below the national guideline at 71 minutes.

The STEMI designation also means that ambulances may bypass other hospitals in favor of St. Joseph. That is because not all hospitals have the same capability to treat patients suffering from severe heart attacks.

An estimated 200,000 people die every year in the United States from heart attacks — and many of those deaths might have been prevented if someone had sought medical help immediately.

The keys to survival include knowing the symptoms of a heart attack and seeking immediate emergency care. Symptoms vary, but shortness of breath, chest discomfort and nausea are the most common.

“Once the heart artery becomes blocked from a cholesterol plaque, the heart muscle starts dying,” said Michaels. “The faster the heart artery can be opened, the greater number of heart cells can stay alive, resulting in stronger heart muscle and a better outcome.”

The Heart Institute at St. Joseph offers a variety of testing and services to treat the cardiac care of patients including open heart surgery, cardiac catheterization, pacemakers, EKG and Doppler Studies and cardiac rehabilitation and exercise conditioning. For more information on cardiac care at St. Joseph, visit
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