New heart initiative links Duluth hospitals to EKGs in fieldHeart attack victims will be more likely to survive in the Northland thanks to twin grants announced on Friday, local health experts say.
By: John Lundy, Duluth News Tribune
Heart attack victims will be more likely to survive in the Northland thanks to twin grants announced on Friday, local health experts say.
“This definitely advances health in our communities, and it will save lives,” said Richard Mullvain, program manager at the Essentia Health Heart and Vascular Center in Duluth.
Mullvain was talking about grants totaling more than $200,000 to Essentia Health and St. Luke’s as the American Heart Association launches what it calls Mission: Lifeline in rural
Among other things, the grants will enable the hospitals to install equipment to let emergency room personnel read information directly from ambulance personnel, Mullvain said.
“You could be way up in the Boundary Waters, and we could be looking at your EKG within seconds,” he said.
In ambulances equipped with 12-lead electrocardiogram devices, the EMTs or paramedics will attach wires to the victim’s chest and shoulders. The device can show experts if the patient is suffering the most serious kind of heart attack, a STEMI, or ST-elevated myocardial infarction, which is caused by a sudden, total blockage of a coronary artery.
STEMIs, which comprise more than one out of every four heart attacks, carry substantial risks of death and disability, according to the American Heart Association. In Minnesota, 2,284 people suffered STEMIs in 2011, the state health department reported.
It’s important to determine quickly whether a patient is suffering a STEMI because fast action is a key factor in treatment, said Dr. Scott Mikesell, a cardiologist at St. Luke’s.
“The quicker we take care of the heart attack, the better we deal with it,” Mikesell said.
He and Mullvain are STEMI program managers for their respective hospitals, and both are co-chairmen of Mission Lifeline: Minnesota.
In the Northland, only the two Duluth hospitals have the specialized equipment needed to treat a STEMI, Mikesell said. So if it’s known that the patient is suffering a STEMI, informed decisions can be made about where to take the patient and whether to go by ambulance or helicopter.
“To be able to more rapidly diagnose these people and get them here a lot quicker saves lives over and over and over again,” Mikesell said.
Minnesota is the fourth state to get the Mission: Lifeline program, following South Dakota, North Dakota and Wyoming. The heart association announced funding of more than $6.5 million last June to launch the program in Minnesota.
The bulk of the funding comes from the Helmsley Charitable Trust, with additional funding from other sources, including St. Luke’s hospital and its foundation.
The specific programs are being rolled out now. The first grants were announced on Friday at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center, just ahead of the annual Arrowhead EMS Conference and Expo.
St. Luke’s and Essentia each received $108,155 grants.
Ambulance services are being equipped under separate grants, Mullvain said.