All-hours heart service will be a real lifesaver
A NEW round-the-clock service to treat heart attack patients from across Kent has been launched at Ashford’s William Harvey Hospital.
The 24/7 specialist centre offers victims primary angioplasty - the first line of treatment for severe heart attacks that nationally saves hundreds of lives each year.
Before its introduction, patients who suffered a heart attack were given thrombolysis, the injection of a clot busting drug.
But new evidence has shown primary angioplasty for some types of heart attacks saves more lives and has a better long-term prognosis.
Angioplasty is a procedure to unblock an artery carrying blood to the heart. Under local anaesthetic, a small balloon is inserted via an artery in the groin or arm and guided to the blockage.
Once in place, the balloon is inflated and removed, leaving behind a rigid ‘stent’ which allows blood to flow through.
Patients with the most severe kind of heart attack suffer a complete blockage in an artery and it is this group - about 600 to 1,000 people in Kent each year - who are now being treated with primary angioplasty at the new centre.
The new system means a patient’s electrocardiogram (ECG) results can be sent straight from the ambulance to the specialist team at Ashford who can confirm the type of heart attack while the patient is on their way.
A support team of cardiologists, nurses, radiographers and cardiac physiologists can then be waiting, ready to operate.
Kent Cardiovascular Network’s Clinical Lead and Consultant Cardiologist, Bet Mishra said: “To ensure patients recover well after a heart attack, coronary artery flow needs to be reestablished as quickly as possible to limit damage to the heart muscle.
“Clinical evidence shows that using primary angioplasty as the main treatment for heart attack patients will save about 240 more lives per year in the UK and lead to improved recovery for many others.
“It has fewer complications and reduces the rates of future heart attacks.
“This life-saving treatment will also reduce the amount of time heart attack patients spend in hospital from around five to nine days after thrombolysis to around three.
“The maximum ambulance travelling time from all postcodes in Kent will be 75 minutes. However, this is for standard travelling time and not ‘blue light emergency travel’ and therefore it is expected that travelling times will actually be shorter.”
Consultant cardiologist Dr Richard Heppel at the William Harvey Hospital