Heart patients in Walla Walla now have faster access to life-saving treatments with new emergency cardiac procedures being performed at Walla Walla General Hospital.
Emergency angioplasty and stent procedures, which previously required all patients to be transported an hour away to the nearest hospital able to perform these procedures, can now be performed on most patients without leaving the Walla Walla Valley, hospital officials said.
According to the American Heart Association, heart attack remains a leading cause of death in the United States. For patients experiencing a certain type of heart attack -- a "ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction" -- quick treatment is vital.
The most effective treatment is called percutaneous coronary intervention and involves a cardiologist inserting a balloon and a stent into the artery to reestablish blood flow. The chance of survival depends on how soon treatment starts.
"Outcomes improve significantly when we can diagnose and treat cardiac patients within 90 minutes of the onset of symptoms, and that's something we're now better equipped to manage," said Dr. Bradley Titus, interventional cardiologist and medical director of General Hospital's cardiac program.
"The clock begins ticking the moment a patient feels discomfort, and with these new procedures we save precious time and in many cases eliminate the need to transport patients an hour or longer to cardiac facilities."
The hospital's cardiac team is on call 24 hours a day Sunday through Thursday evenings, said Kristi Spurgeon Johnson, WWGH spokeswoman.