How one hospital shattered its 'door to balloon' record

Patient's alertness to symptoms played a role

The national goal is to get a patient experiencing a heart attack from door to OR in less than 90 minutes. St Joseph's Hospital in Syracuse just did it in nine, Katie Gibas writes for Time Warner Cable News.

Why one hospital waits before treating heart attack patients

On July 1, Jeff Wittig realized he was having a heart attack after feeling tremendous pain across his chest and experiencing difficulty breathing.

While Wittig was being transported to St. Joseph's, the hospital electronically received his electrocardiogram from the EMS team—a tactic that has helped speed care, and which helped prepare doctors to take Wittig into surgery when he arrived. 

St. Joseph's broke its "door to balloon" record by more than two minutes and bested the national goal by more than 80 minutes. The hospital's average door-to-balloon time last year was 40 minutes, down from 120 minutes in 2004.

According to St. Joseph's physicians, providers should educate patients to recognize indicators of a heart attack so they can seek help as quickly as possible—especially because heart muscle damage generally begins with the first sign of symptoms.

Ronald Caputo, director of cardiac services at St. Joseph's, says, "You need to call an ambulance and make sure you're getting evaluated in a timely fashion because that's sort of the piece that we don't have control over. That's up to the patient" (Gibas, Time Warner Cable News, 7/22; Mulder,, 9/5/13).

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