Hospital Recognized For Heart Attack Treatment

For the fourth consecutive year, Wheeling Hospital has earned the Gold Plus Receiving Award from the American Heart Association for its treatment of heart attacks.

The announcement was made last week during a roundtable discussion led by interventional cardiologist Dr. Robert Fanning. Also attending were support staff and nurses, Wheeling Fire Department Chief Larry Helms, Wheeling Fire Assistant Chief Jim Blazier, Barton Volunteer Fire Department emergency medical technician Lt. John Burdock, and Dr. Matt Lee, emergency room director.

The award was in recognition of the hospital meeting AHA’s Mission: Lifeline program for its treatment of a heart attack called a ST elevation acute myocardial infarction, also known as a STEMI, which is a heart attack that involves a blockage that needs treatment to restore blood flow.

It was noted the hospital’s heart attack patients reach the catheterization lab in less than 90 minutes, compared to the national average of two hours.

Through educating the public about the signs and symptoms of a heart attack and partnering with local emergency medics, Fanning said people’s survival rates are improving.

For example, most local medics are using 12-lead electrocardiograms instead of just 3-lead EKGs, which helps them diagnose heart attacks in the field. The data also are transmitted directly to the hospital. More leads means a better picture of the heart and how much of it is failing.

By doing this, Fanning can get to the catheterization lab faster because he knows he is needed for that specific patient.

“We don’t function as a hospital if you can’t bring the patient alive to us,” Fanning said. “If you do the EKG at the scene you’ve shaved off my drive time and his drive time. … It translates into time saved and time saved is lives saved.”

Helms said the hospital helped the fire department purchase its EKG machines, which typically cost $35,000 each. Burdock said Barton and other fire departments in Belmont County received help purchasing the machines from the American Heart Association.

“We are seeing all aspects of the heart we weren’t seeing before. We see those (heart attacks) that we really didn’t see until they were much more progressed on the 3-leads,” Helms said. “Technology and training has definitely been beneficial.”

Fanning said half of people who die of a heart attack do so before they reach the hospital. Many times it’s because people are in denial they are having a heart attack, or they’re embarrassed about it.

“Don’t ignore chest pain,” Fanning said.