(May 17, 2007 WASHINGTON, DC)Imagine paramedics mobilizing a team of cardiologists and nurses within minutes of arriving at the home of a person who is having a heart attack, simply by pressing a button that sends an electrocardiogram (ECG) over a wireless network. That's exactly what's being done at a Newark, NJ, medical center, and it's dramatically improving the quality of care, according to a study honored as the best abstract presented at the 30th Annual Scientific Sessions of the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions (SCAI), May 912, 2007.
The wireless system, which enables on-call cardiologists to view full ECGs on "smart" phones, has cut in half the time it takes to begin the treatment of heart attack with catheter-based techniques such as angioplasty and stenting.
"We have found a way to receive electrocardiograms from home, from another hospital, from our carsanywhere we are," said Vivek N. Dhruva, D.O., academic chief fellow in the Division of Cardiology at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ)-New Jersey Medical School, who presented the paper. "In only 4 months, we went from being in the bottom 10 percent of hospitals in the time to treatment of heart attack to being in the top 10 percent of hospitals."
The so-called door-to-balloon timethe time between arrival at the hospital and initial inflation of an angioplasty balloon to open a blocked coronary arteryhas become a recognized marker of the quality of care delivered to heart attack patients. Current guidelines have set a goal of no more than 90 minutes, a deadline that many hospitals struggle to meet.
At UMDNJ, for example, it took an average of 61 minutes in 2005 just to notify a cardiologist that a patient with a heart attack had arrived at the emergency room. Coupled with the assignment of on-call cardiologists to more than one hospital and the catheterization laboratory's 5 PM closing time, it was virtually
Contact: Kathy Boyd David
Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions