Heart Attack Strategy:
THIRTY-NINE-YEAR-OLD professional firefighters aren’t supposed to have heart attacks. But that’s what happened to Edgewater resident Mark Chandler last April 11.
His experience illustrates how cardiovascular disease can present itself in an instant. Yet, cardiovascular disease builds slowly and silently over time. It becomes life-threatening when arteries become critically blocked by plaque, a build-up of fat, cholesterol, and other substances that sticks to the arterial wall, obstructing blood flow to the body’s vital organs.
“When I arrived at AAMC’s emergency room, the nurses and physician were moving fast. When they confirmed I was having a heart attack, they really went into fast forward.”
TITUS C. ABRAHAM, M.D., medical director of the AAMC Chest Pain Center, said, “Every minute is critical in saving heart tissue during a heart attack. At AAMC, chest pain patients are assessed, diagnosed, and treated within a mandated and tightly scripted time frame. Treating chest pain quickly is our only chance to save these patients.”
AAMC’s accreditation from the Society of Chest Pain Centers assures that patients with chest pain will be triaged quickly and given appropriate and rapid treatment. For patients like Mr. Chandler who are having heart attacks, the C-PORT Program allows AAMC to provide advanced, immediate emergency cardiac care. C-PORT – Cardiovascular Patient Outcomes Research Team study – is a registry that allows hospitals without an open-heart surgery program to perform emergency coronary angioplasties.
“Several years ago, a clinical trial confirmed that emergency angioplasty, or the medical widening of arteries, can be safely performed without the hospital having open-heart capability,” said JONATHAN ALTSCHULER, M.D., an interventional cardiologist and director of AAMC’s C-PORT program. “We perform more than 90 emergency angioplasties annually as part of that registry.”
Less than 90 minutes after arriving at AAMC, Mr. Chandler’s heart attack was diagnosed, and interventional cardiologist HECTOR K. COLLISON, M.D., was performing an angioplasty. A stent, or expanding wire mesh, was placed into Mr. Chandler’s artery, restoring blood flow.
Mr. Chandler’s case points to a significant health issue in the United States, said JOHN D. MARTIN, M.D., director of the AAMC Heart & Vascular Center and one of the driving forces behind the Dare to C.A.R.E. cardiovascular screening program. “Cardiovascular disease is an extremely serious issue. Too many of our friends and neighbors aren’t getting the treatment they should or visiting the doctors they need to see.”
“I receive annual physicals from the fire department,” said Mr. Chandler. “I wouldn’t have thought I’d be someone to have a heart attack, at least not at my age, but I did.” To learn more about cardiac risk, visit www.daretocare.us or call 410-573-9483. For heart attack symptoms, go to: www.aahs.org and type “heart attack symptoms” in the search box. Firefighter Mark Chandler, 39, had an emergency angioplasty at AAMC last spring after suffering a heart attack.
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