When a person experiences a heart attack, rapid treatment is critical to prevent heart muscle damage. During this "golden hour," the best treatment is often to provide cath lab intervention as quickly as possible. With this in mind, the Dean & St. Mary's Cardiac Center has implemented Madison's Level One Heart Attack ProgramSM. The program, modeled after the cardiologists and staff at Abbott Northwestern in Minneapolis, uses partnerships with emergency service providers and regional hospitals to eliminate delays and to speed diagnosis and treatment of heart attack patients in the region. Many regional community hospitals do not have cardiac cath labs.
The goal of Level One is to minimize the time from when the heart attack patient is first admitted to a hospital or picked up by an ambulance, to the time when the problem artery is opened in a catheterization lab, also known as "door-to-balloon time." Alan Singer, MD, Dean & St. Mary's cardiologist, notes, "We can cut door-to-balloon time nearly in half, from the national average of about 192 minutes to below 80 minutes." Level One programs can also dramatically improve patient outcomes. At Abbott, where the concept originates, the mortality rate for ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI) has dropped by half since the system was implemented.
John Phelan, MD, Chair of the Dean & St. Mary's Cardiac Center, sums up the program by saying, "About two-thirds of patients with STEMI arrive at community hospitals that do not have cardiac cath labs. Our Level One approach guides the entire process—from early assessment to communication to transfer protocol for multiple handoffs—so patients can reach the cath lab sooner. Ultimately, Level One means we can serve patients even better."