A study published today in Circulation shows that interventional cardiologists, working with colleagues across healthcare, are making dramatic progress in the fight against heart disease. According to the new study, nearly all heart attack patients who require emergency angioplasty to open blocked arteries are treated within the recommended 90 minutes from hospital arrival. Only five years ago, less than half of patients suffering a heart attack were treated within the 90-minute door-to-balloon (D2B) time.
Previous studies have shown that when patients suffering major heart attacks (known as STEMI) undergo angioplasty within 90 minutes of their arrival at the hospital, they are much more likely to survive the event and avoid significant damage to their heart.
The remarkable improvement in D2B times is a direct result of the efforts of interventional cardiologists working in partnership with hospital and emergency medical technician (EMT) communities to improve efficiencies in time to treatment. In hospitals throughout the country, interventional cardiologists have spearheaded efforts to achieve – and in many cases improve upon –national D2B time goals. This required major changes to healthcare systems, such as enabling EMTs to call in interventional cardiologists and their teams before patients even arrive at the hospital or before a diagnosis of heart attack is confirmed.
“To ensure our patients’ welfare, interventional cardiologists spend much of their lives on standby, prepared to rush to the hospital at any time of the day or night,” said Christopher J. White, M.D, FSCAI, SCAI president, chairman of the Department of Cardiology and director of the Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute in New Orleans, LA. “When we embraced this aggressive and ambitious goal, many thought it couldn’t be done, but we’ve made it happen nationwide because we knew it was the right thing to do for our patients. As a result of our collective efforts, many heart attack patients have benefited. It is an incredible accomplishment interventional cardiologists and our partners should be proud of.”
Importantly, the new data published today also demonstrate that quality improvement efforts can be successfully implemented on a national scale. SCAI is proud to be part of efforts to improve D2B times and is committed to further improving quality of care through both physician and patient education. Examples of SCAI's quality improvement efforts include the Cath Lab Survey Program; the Accreditation for Cardiovascular Excellence (ACE) organization, which provides professional review of facilities and accreditation for those that achieve pre-determined standards for appropriate use of procedures, quality care and continuous quality improvement; and the Quality Improvement Toolkit (SCAI-QIT), with its practical, customizable tools designed to support interventional cardiologists as they launch or expand quality improvement programs in their cath labs.
In addition to ongoing efforts on D2B time, SCAI is committed to also reducing symptom-to-door time - the period between when patients begin experiencing heart attack symptoms until they seek treatment. The Society’s patient education website, www.SecondsCount.org, equips patients with information on the symptoms of a heart attack and the importance of promptly seeking emergency care. SCAI also hosts educational programs throughout the country for cardiovascular patients and others concerned about heart disease. At SCAI’s “Know What Counts” programs, attendees learn about heart disease symptoms as well as diagnostic and treatment options, questions to ask their doctors, and strategies for prevention. Know What Counts programs are held throughout the United States, often in partnership with patient advocacy groups and other professional medical societies.