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Rapid Heart Attack Treatment at Virginia Mason Saves Lives

SEATTLE – (Feb. 1, 2016) – Patients suffering heart attack receive treatment at Virginia Mason that is among the fastest and most responsive in the region.

The average “door-to-balloon” time is 51 minutes at Virginia Mason. This means within 51 minutes of a heart attack patient’s arrival at the emergency department, the Virginia Mason medical team has threaded a balloon into the patient’s heart through a wire-thin catheter and inflated it to widen the clogged artery and restore blood flow.

Virginia Mason’s rapid door-to-balloon time is 39 minutes faster than the maximum 90-minute response recommended by the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association.

“Our ability to swiftly treat heart attack increases the chances there will be minimal damage to the heart muscle and improves the patient’s ability to make a full recovery,” said cardiologist Wayne Hwang, MD, medical director of the catheterization lab at the Virginia Mason Heart Institute.

As part of its focus on quality outcomes and patient safety, Virginia Mason participates in the Door-to-Balloon (D2B) Alliance. This is a collaborative effort of more than 900 hospitals aimed at improving door-to-balloon times for heart attack, also known in the medical profession as ST–segment elevation myocardial infarction.

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute lists the most common warning symptoms of a heart attack for both men and women as:

  1. Chest pain or discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center or left side of the chest. The discomfort usually lasts for more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back. It can feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain. It also can feel like heartburn or indigestion. The feeling can be mild or severe.
  2. Upper body discomfort. You may feel pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, shoulders, neck, jaw or upper part of the stomach (above the belly button).
  3. Shortness of breath. This may be your only symptom, or it may occur before or along with chest pain or discomfort. It can occur when you are resting or doing a little bit of physical activity. Learn more nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/heartattack/signs.

A heart attack is an emergency that requires life-saving medical care. Anyone suffering any or all the symptoms above should immediately call 911. February is American Heart Month.

About Virginia Mason Virginia Mason, founded in 1920, is a nonprofit regional health care system based in Seattle that serves the Pacific Northwest. In the Puget Sound region, the system includes 336-bed Virginia Mason Hospital; a primary and specialty care group practice of more than 480 physicians; regional medical centers in Seattle, Bainbridge Island, Bellevue, Federal Way, Kirkland, Issaquah and Lynnwood; Bailey-Boushay House, the first skilled-nursing and outpatient chronic care management program in the U.S. designed and built specifically to meet the needs of people with HIV/AIDS; Benaroya Research Institute, which is internationally recognized for autoimmune disease research; and Virginia Mason Institute, which trains health care professionals and others from around the world in the Virginia Mason Production System, an innovative management methodology for continually improving quality, safety and efficiency. Virginia Mason online: VirginiaMason.org

Virginia Mason also includes Yakima-based Memorial Family of Services and Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital, a 226-bed facility serving the Yakima Valley in Central Washington since 1950. Memorial Family of Services comprises primary care practices and specialty care services, including high quality cardiac care, a continuum of cancer care, hospice care, and advanced services for children with special health care needs. Memorial online: YakimaMemorial.org

Media Contact: Gale Robinette Media Relations Manager

Virginia Mason Health System (206) 341-1509 gale.robinette@VirginiaMason.org