Emergency Angioplasty

We have all heard of the golden hour rule in emergency medicine. For heart attacks, the golden rule relates to what healthcare providers call the door-to-balloon time and the golden window of time is 90 minutes.

A major heart attack occurs when a significant blockage occurs in a coronary artery. This is called an ST-elevation myocardial infarction or STEMI. The quicker an individual with this type of heart attack has the coronary artery opened, the better the chances are for survival and less permanent damage to the heart.

Currently, the preferred treatment for individuals experiencing this type of heart attack is emergency angioplasty. The benefit of emergency angioplasty depends on how quickly an individual is treated. However,
only about one third of individuals in the United States obtain treatment within the recommended 90 minutes because the services are not available or are not able to be provided in that time frame. Residents of Harford County and western Cecil County can now be assured that this lifesaving procedure is available in their community, making that golden door to balloon time a reality. In April 2008, University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health (UM UCH) received state approval to perform emergency cardiac angioplasty in its state-of-the-art Cardiac Catheterization Lab at University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center (UM UCMC).

In this procedure, which is performed in a Cardiac Catheterization Lab, a thin wire with a tiny balloon on the end is threaded through an artery to the blockage. When the balloon is inflated, it clears the blockage and restores blood flow to the heart. Many times a wire mesh tube, called a stent, also is placed to help prop the artery open and prevent re-closure. The Cardiac Catheterization team at UM UCH has undergone extensive training in emergency angioplasty with the goal to assess, prepare and safely transport patients to our Cardiac Cath Lab in 90 minutes or less. Our team of interventional cardiologists performing the emergency angioplasties has many years of experience and expertise in delivering this cardiac interventional procedure.

"The ability to perform emergency angioplasty here in Harford County helps ensure patients arrive at a Cardiac Catheterization Lab sooner for artery opening procedures resulting in a better chance for survival and
less permanent damage to the heart," said Dr. Michael Drossner, Board Certified Cardiologist and Medical Director of the Cardiac Catheterization Lab.

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