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Mission: Lifeline To Help Heart Attack Patients

November 4, 2010, 5:13 PM by Kelli Grant

Mission: Lifeline To Help Heart Attack Patients
SIOUX FALLS, SD - When someone is having a heart attack, time is precious. In fact, if blood and oxygen are cut off for more than a few minutes, heart muscle cells start to die.

Earlier this year, the American Heart Association received $8.4 million from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable trust. It's money they're using to support a new initiative called Mission: Lifeline. And if you have a heart attack, those dollars are there to improve your outcome.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of people in this country have what's known as a STEMI.

"STEMI is an ST elevated MI and in layman's terms that just means a really bad heart attack. And if we don't intervene either with angioplasty and a stent placement or a medication to break up the clot, a lot of those patient's don't survive," Director of Mission: Lifeline in South Dakota Jodi Doering said.

When a patient suffers this severe of a heart attack, blood flow is completely blocked to a portion of the heart and time is muscle.

That's where a 12-lead ECG machine comes into play. In an ambulance in route to a hospital, a patient's heart can be viewed in 12 different ways. That can then be transmitted directly to the hospital waiting for the patient, giving doctors and nurses a heads up when that critical patient arrives.

"When people have long transport times, we'll be able to activate helicopters, ground ambulances 20, 30, 60 minutes ahead of what we're going right now," Doering said.

The multi-million dollar gift will make sure every ambulance in the state has one of these machines on board.

Because it is new to some, on Thursday, 120 nurses, EMTs, physicians and anyone else that works with heart attack patients received education needed to provide this level of care.

"We're providing education that takes the patient from their chest pain when they call 911, all the way through to their cath lab and every part in between," Doering said.

The three-year $8.4 million grant will also be used for hospital training and for a public education campaign.

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