Getting to the heart of the matter

Heart health should be at the top of everyone’s health agenda and all this week we’re promoting the importance of looking after your heart, what to do in a heart-related emergency, and how the ambulance service helps those suffering from heart conditions.

Read our blog by Paul Murray, the cardiac lead for EEAST, about the treatment pathway for people who have had a heart attack.

“With a life-threatening illness such as a heart attack, it’s important that not only does that person get help fast – but that they get the correct treatment.

A heart attack happens when either the arteries become too narrow for blood to pass through them, or when a clot forms which blocks the artery and is can’t pass through.

From when we first receive a 999 call for someone suffering a heart attack, we have up to 150 minutes to get that patient to what’s known as a PPCI centre, which stands for primary percutaneous coronary intervention, so that they can receive treatment which can help save their life.

On the way to hospital the ambulance crew will give the patient pain relief and administer drugs to start dispensing the clot.

On arrival at a PPCI centre, the patient will undergo a non-surgical procedure where a catheter with a balloon attached is inserted into the heart to inflate the artery at the point of the blockage to allow the blood to pass through. A stent (or several stents) is then usually fitted in order to keep the arteries open and the blood flowing.

The hospitals in the east of England that can do the PPCI procedure are Papworth, Basildon, Lister, Harefield, the Norfolk and Norwich, and Watford.  For a patient to survive, it’s vital they are receiving treatment at a PPCI in a maximum of 150 minutes of the 999 call being made, and here at EEAST we achieve this in 91.6% of cases – above the national average of 89.7%.

No-one’s in any doubt that what’s even better than quick treatment is preventing the heart attack in the first place, and I’d encourage everyone to help look after their heart by eating healthily, exercising regularly, and not smoking.”

Paul Murray

Mr Shaw - patient meet upA case study

Anthony Shaw suffered a massive heart attack on December 13, which caused him to go into cardiac arrest.  Thanks to lifesaving treatment within minutes from an EEAST emergency care practitioner (ECP) and quick transport to the PPCI at Lister, Anthony survived and was discharged from hospital after just four days, and with three stents fitted in his heart. Read his full story.

To find out more about our heart takeover week follow us on Twitter and join in the conversation using #hearttakeover, and like us on Facebook. 

*Statistics for April 2013 – September 2013 inclusive. 


About East of England Ambulance Service

Our aim is to be the recognised leader in emergency, urgent and out of hospital care in the East of England....
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