Text size:

Memorial Healthwatch Winter/Spring 2009

Rapid Response for Heart Attacks

Swift Action by Memorial's Code Heart Teams Provides Critical Lifesaving Care

Rapid Response for Heart Attacks

Not long ago, Wilson experienced a frightening sensation he had never felt before. "It was like someone was punching my chest," the 43-year-old Colombia native says.

Paramedics rushed to his aid, but his EKG was normal. Four days later, Wilson was at work when the pain returned. This time, it was far worse.

"I asked a colleague to drive me home. About halfway there, I changed my mind and told him to take me to Memorial Hospital Miramar," he says.

The Emergency Department staff quickly responded to his ashen face and the words "chest pain." Tests confirmed Wilson was having a full-blown heart attack, and he was immediately transferred to Memorial Cardiac and Vascular Institute at Memorial Hospital West.

Only 68 minutes later, Luis Tami,MD, Medical Director of the Cardiac Catheterization Lab at Memorial Regional Hospital, opened his blocked artery with balloon angioplasty and implanted four stents to keep it open. Pain relief was immediate. Wilson was discharged two days later and back at work in no time.

Luis Tami, MD

Luis Tami, MD
Medical Director
Cardiac Catheterization Lab
Memorial Regional Hospital


Bassel Ibrahim, MD

Bassel Ibrahim, MD
Medical Director
Cardiac Catheterization Lab
Memorial Hospital West

Every Second Makes a Difference

The short time it took to diagnose Wilson's heart attack, transfer him, and open his arteries reflects Memorial's efforts toward achieving or bettering the 90-minute window set by the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology. Restoring blood flow as quickly as possible can help reduce the likelihood of death or permanent damage.

Memorial's exceptionally fast service is recognized nationally by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and used to illustrate the importance of meeting or shortening the 90-minute time frame.

"It is an ongoing process to reduce 'door-to-balloon' time," says Dr. Tami.

The Code Heart teams set goals for every stage of care; for example, how long it takes to transfer the patient, bring the cardiologist and team to the hospital and open the arteries.

The biggest obstacle to success is denial, says Bassel Ibrahim, MD, Medical Director of the Cardiac Catheterization Lab at Memorial Hospital West.

"So many people are afraid they will need surgery that they wait hours to see if the pain goes away. There is less chance you will need surgery or multiple medications, or develop heart failure, if you get to the ER quickly. Opening the arteries with angioplasty is virtually painless and can be lifesaving," says Dr. Ibrahim.

To find a Memorial physician who is committed to patient- and family-centered care, call Memorial Physician Referral Service toll-free at (800) 944-DOCS. We're available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.