In an ideal world every heart attack would be treated like Willard “Ziggy” Hill’s, within 90 minutes of arriving at a small community hospital in North Carolina, he was having a blocked artery reopened at Duke University Medical Center 25 miles away.
“It was like being a car in a pit stop at NASCAR,” he said. “I thought ‘I am in really good hands.”
2 years ago Mr. Hill might not have been that lucky. North Carolina used to rank below national norms of heart attack care response, now it may be one of the best.
The reason is a nation project to redo how serious heart attacks are handled. Paramedics, doctors and 65 hospitals put aside powerful individual interests like money and control, and focused on giving faster care.
Speed is paramount when dealing with heart attacks as drugs, devices and doctors can do no good if they do not reach people quickly, before the heart attack suffers permanent damage.
Heart attack occurs as a result of blocked arteries that cripple critical blood supply. The first choice of treatment is angioplasty; this procedure involves inserting a tiny balloon in to the vessel, which is then inflated to flatten the clog.