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Elmhurst Memorial’s record “door-to-balloon” time saves heart attack patient

 

David Cairo, 57, of Addison thought the pain in his chest was just indigestion.  The yard work would need to wait while he rested with a glass of water.

“This had happened before, and the pain would go away.  But this time, it didn’t,” Cairo recalls.

In fact, the pain moved up to his jaw and throughout an arm, and became more intense.  What he did next likely saved his life.

“I was afraid to call the paramedics because if it wasn’t a heart attack, I’d feel like a fool.  But I called 9-1-1 anyway,” Cairo says about that day in May 2012.

Emergency medical technicians confirmed his condition and electronically sent test results to the Elmhurst Memorial Hospital (EMH) emergency medical team that was standing by, including Lawrence Barr, MD, a cardiologist with EMH and Midwest Heart-Advocate Medical Group.

There’s a window of opportunity — called door-to-balloon — for a patient to receive life-saving medical treatment following a heart attack.  The national standard is 90 minutes, but EMH’s average is closer to just 60 minutes.  And in Cairo’s case, only 24 minutes passed between the moment he reached the hospital and the time the blocked artery was reopened with a stent — a hospital record.

“We try to go well beyond the national goals and are always looking for ways to shave off a minute or two yet maintain quality,” says Dr. Barr.

While Cairo was being prepared for cardiac catheterization, a nurse called his wife, Mary Beth, at work.  Hearing the news “took the breath out of me,” she says.  Even though she left for the hospital immediately, by the time she arrived, her husband had already received stents and was “in the recovery room with a big smile on his face.”

Since his heart attack, Cairo has quit smoking, lowered his cholesterol, lost weight and completely changed his diet.

“I eat so much chicken now that people ask me why I cross the road,” he jokes.

Looking back, the Cairos both say calling 9-1-1 was the smartest action David took.

Notes Mary Beth, “Time is not on the heart attack patient’s side.  Don’t lose all that valuable time, which the paramedics can use to start the tests and communicate with hospital personnel.  Just call 9-1-1.”

To find out if you’re at risk for heart disease, take EMH’s free five-minute test that could save your life at www.emhc.org/HealthAware. For more information about EMH activities during Heart Month in February, visit www.emhc.org/services/cardiology/community-ed.  

Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare Network

This site is part of the Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare network of Web sites, which covers a variety of topics using the same philosophy: When it comes to medical care, we know that you have a lot of options. And we want you to know that you're more than a patient to us. You're an individual. We would appreciate the opportunity to provide you with state-of-the-art medical care and down-to-earth, personalized attention.

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