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Timely Treatment for Heart Attack Patients

For patients experiencing an ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) — a heart attack — time is of the essence. At Texas Health hospitals, a specialized STEMI protocol helps patients receive treatment faster.

When someone suffers a heart attack, the more time that passes, the more heart muscle is damaged. To expedite care, Texas Health hospitals work together to ensure patients receive care as quickly as possible. Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospitals Azle, Southwest Fort Worth, Cleburne and Stephenville use the STEMI protocol to transfer STEMI patients to Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth for rapid treatment. In addition, Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital and Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Hurst-Euless-Bedford use a STEMI protocol.

While transporting a heart attack patient, emergency medical services (EMS) personnel use an electrocardiogram to diagnose the STEMI, and the results are then transmitted to cardiologists at the hospital who prepare the catheterization laboratory.

When a STEMI patient arrives for care, a catheterization — insertion of a long tube that is maneuvered through an artery toward the heart — is necessary to promote blood flow again. Cardiologists then inject iodine and use an X-ray to locate and assess the blockage and use a balloon and metal stent to expand the damaged artery. Blood is then free to flow into the heart again, preventing further damage to the organ.

“The entire team works together to provide efficient care for STEMI patients,” says Vinit Lal, M.D., cardiologist on the medical
staff at Texas Health Arlington Memorial. “Everyone — from EMS personnel and cardiologists to Emergency Department staff — understands his or her role within the STEMI protocol, and seamless collaboration enables us to provide the quickest and most effective treatment.”

For more information about heart and vascular services at Texas Health facilities, visit

(Fall/Winter 2011)

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