Friday, April 27, 2007

New Hope For Cardiac Victims

Heart attack victims in Ottawa, Canada now have a new protocol which vastly improves their outcome. The program founded by the University of Ottawa in May of 2005 has been credited with reducing the heart attack death rate of high risk patients by 75%.


In the past when a 911 caller complained of chest pains or shortness of breath an ambulance would be dispatched to transport the patient to the nearest emergency room. Under the new protocol high risk patients are now transported to the University of Ottawa Heart Institute. Paramedics have been trained to recognize a certain category of heart attack — ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction, or STEMI — and will transport high-risk patients directly to the institute.


In the past patients would be go through the triage process before any treatment. Paramedics would transmit readings from an electrocardiogram to emergency rooms and wait for an interpretation. Now that paramedics have been trained to interpret the the tracings, patients exhibiting signs of STEMI are taken to the Heart Institute. These patients are routinely given clog busting drugs with a 50% success rate. Patients transported to the Heart Institute receive angioplasty to open blocked arteries. This procedure has a 90% success rate.

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