New Technology Helps Prevent Heart Attack Deaths
Paramedics’ new monitoring system communicates with ER in advance
ANCHORAGE - Anchorage paramedics have a new tool in their hands when it comes to helping heart attack patients get faster treatment. That’s a good thing because when a heart attack happens, every second counts.
“We think in terms of a 90 minute window,” said Anchorage Paramedic Chief Michael Crotty. “That’s from the time a patient calls 911 with a complaint till they are in the cardiac cath lab having a vessel reopened to allow blood flow to the heart.”
A new type of technology is shortening the time it takes to get treatment. LifeNet is a remote patient monitoring system that allows paramedics to take a reading in the field, then transmit the results to doctors in the Emergency Room, all before the ambulance arrives at the hospital.
The advantage is that doctors can share the results and assemble a treatment team to get the patient started the moment they enter the door. Doctors say the system is designed for a particular type of heart condition that is not only common but very dangerous.
“It’s a specific type of heart attack that is extremely time dependent,” said Alaska Regional’s Dr. Mike Levy, “where there has been a blockage of one of the arteries that feeds the heart with blood.”
The LifeNet technology is new to Anchorage. The Alaska Regional Hospital Auxiliary donated more than $11,000 dollars to equip each of the city’s ambulances with computer modems that could transmit the EKGs.
Right now, Alaska Regional is the only facility in Anchorage that has the technology to accept the EKGs, although Providence plans to acquire it soon.
But while the technology can help save lives, patients have to take the first step themselves.
The life saving chain doesn’t start until someone who thinks they may be experiencing a heart attack picks up the phone and calls 911.