STEMI (ST segment elevation myocardial infarction) is a deadly type of heart attack characterized by a prolonged period of blockage to the heart. Treatment of STEMI from beginning to end requires help from many members of the medical team, from emergency response to cardiologists.
A Ticking Clock
Timing is everything in treating STEMI, as with most heart attacks, so fast emergency response is extremely important. If you or someone you know may be suffering from a heart attack, call 9-1-1 or your local EMS right away.
When first responding to a heart attack patient, the job of EMS is to take the victim’s vital signs, and begin an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) to determine where the damage has occurred. Some EMS teams have a system that allows the EKG reports to be sent directly to the hospital so a cardiologist can begin assessing the patient’s condition.
EMS teams are invaluable in the treatment of heart attack patients. They must preserve the heart muscle and get the patient to the hospital or facility as fast as possible; sometimes they may have to perform CPR to resuscitate a patient on the way to the facility.
The Next Step
In most cases, as soon as a STEMI patient arrives at a hospital, he or she is taken for emergency cardiac catheterization. This process would usually be performed by a cardiologist who is trained in noninvasive and invasive techniques. Cardiac catheterization entails inserting a catheter through a main artery and up to the heart where the blockage is. A balloon-type structure on the end of the catheter is inflated to relieve the blockage.
On some occasions, catheterization is not enough to remove a blockage and a cardiovascular surgeon may be called in to perform another surgical procedure called a coronary artery bypass graft. During this surgery, an artery from somewhere else in the body is used to bypass the blocked one. Bloodflow is restored through this new blood vessel and can continue on to the heart muscle.
After recovering in the hospital, many patients are referred to a cardiac rehabilitation program to help them regain their health and prevent future damage to their heart. A cardiac rehabilitation team will advise a patient about physical activity, provide education on a healthy lifestyle, as well as offer support.
Time is of the essence with heart attacks, and here at Central Florida Regional Hospital, our STEMI treatment times consistently beat the national average. If you would like more information on your heart health or are seeking cardiac care, contact us. Visit our Heart Institute online us at (407) 321-4500.
How Doctors Diagnose and Treat a Heart Attack (Health.com)
Heart Attacks and Heart Disease (WebMD)