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CHI St. Vincent, MEMS working to fight heart attack-related deaths in Arkansas

As a part of THV11's observance of National Heart Month, we take a look at the worst-case scenario: a heart attack.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- In case no one has said it to you yet, welcome to National Heart Month.

As a part of THV11’s observance, we take a look at the worst-case scenario: a heart attack. If it happens, don't drive yourself, call a friend or even an Uber.

That being said, MEMS executive Director Jon Swanson told THV11 that there are compelling reasons to always call 911.

“First of all, when you reach the dispatcher the dispatchers are trained to help you, coach you. Secondly, when paramedics arrive on scene your treatment begins immediately. Third is transportation. The safest way to go is in the back of that ambulance with a paramedic attending to you,” said Swanson.

“Prior to our arrival we transmit the EKGs and make the radio report so the hospital is prepared for your arrival as soon as we get there.”

And that means everything to Dr. Aravind Rao, one of a team of cardiologists on call 24/7 at CHI St Vincent.

Saving time means saving lives.

“We move as fast as possible to open the blockage,” said Dr. Rao.

In Cardiology speech, this race is termed “door to balloon,” the time it takes to get that patient unblocked.

“The national goal is 90 minutes.”

But with MEMS help, and through detailed practice and case reviews, CHI St. Vincent is beating the national average.

“Especially in the last few months, our average time is at around 62 minutes.”

That’s encouraging, but with all this technology and improvement, Arkansas still leads the country in deaths related to heart attacks. It’s a fact that makes MEMS and CHI St. Vincent even more determined.

“Well with our specific mission and responsibility we react to that by doing everything we can in terms or our training equipment the protocol, procedures that we use to be the best help to the patient we can when they reach that point but obviously the issue here is, don't get to that point,” Swanson said

“Stop smoking. Eat low calorie, low salt diet and exercise regularly,” said Dr. Rao. And wear that gown!

While our focus has been on CHI St Vincent, keep in mind MEMS has similar arrangements with all area hospitals equipped to handle cardiac emergencies. Remember, wearing the gown means knowing how to prevent and being proactive in case of emergencies.

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