The American Heart Association (AHA) published findings on January 14, 2010 that indicate regional systems of cardiac care significantly improve patients’ heart attack survival rates. Published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, the study focused on survival rates for patients who suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrests.
American Heart Association Recommends Specialized Cardiac Care
The AHA drafted a policy statement that urges the establishment of specialized cardiac resuscitation centers for cardiac treatment. Such centers have already proven extremely successful in the treatment of strokes, heart attack, and trauma cases. Specialized facilities like the Aventura Center for Cardiac and Vascular Medicine provide exceptionally trained staff and cutting-edge treatment capabilities. That extra expertise pays off.
“Currently survival rates for cardiac arrests vary by as much as 500% from city to city, largely because many regions lack a well-coordinated approach to [cardiac arrest treatment],” said Graham Nichol, MD, MPH , the lead author of the AHA’s policy statement. Areas with implemented systems of care, such as Seattle, Washington, an average of 40% of patients survive to hospital discharge, as opposed to only 7.9% of patients treated by emergency medical services (EMS).
Causes and Treatments for Cardiac Arrest
Approximately 295,000 people in the United States suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrest each year. When a person goes into cardiac arrest, the heart completely stops pumping blood. Usually the interruption occurs because of abnormal electrical signals that cause the heartbeat to malfunction. A primary cause of cardiac arrest is ventricular fibrillation, which happens when the ventricles (chambers) of the heart tremble or contract at the wrong times. Unless a victim receives immediate CPR, cardiac arrest causes death within minutes. CPR keeps enough blood flowing until an automated external defribrillator (AED) shocks the heart and reestablishes a correct heartbeat.
Cardiac resuscitation centers offer the first—and best—line of defense for cardiac arrest because they offer the latest treatment methods. The AHA identified several key strategies and treatments for post-arrest care:
- Therapeutic hypothermia, such as the CODE Ice treatment
- Percutaneous Coronary Intervention(PCI) and coronary angiography
- Early stabilization of vital signs and blood circulation
- Ability to manage arrest relapse
- Reliable estimation of survival that takes into account the effects of other treatments
- Electrophysiology studies prior to release, to prevent discharge of patients with dangerous arrhythmias
Individual and regional planning can ensure that cardiac arrest patients receive the best care possible. The medical personnel of each community must build a response plan together, based on community needs. Meanwhile, individuals can familiarize themselves with the signs and symptoms of cardiac arrest and learn which local hospitals offer the best cardiovascular care.
Members of the Aventura community can learn more about heart health, groundbreaking treatment methods, and heart-smart nutrition during American Heart Month. On Tuesday, February 16, 2010 from 10:00 to 2:00, the hospital will offer blood pressure and blood sugar screenings, along with the opportunity to schedule an angioscreen. Join the festivities and find out how to prevent cardiac arrest and other heart conditions.