THE SOONER YOU or a loved one receives treatment during a medical emergency, such as a heart attack, stroke or life-threatening injury, the greater your chances for survival. And that makes Pleasant Valley Hospital your best choice when you need medical attention fast.
Not only are we the medical facility that’s most accessible during an emergency, our 24/7 ER is manned with specially trained physicians and staff who use state-of-the-art equipment, diagnostic technology, comprehensive general surgical capabilities, and many other life-saving resources. And as part of our standards of care, emergency room nurses are certified in advanced cardiovascular life support by the American Heart Association.
So why is seeking medical help as quickly as possible so important during an emergency medical situation? To answer that question, let’s consider what happens to your body during a heart attack.
Having a Heart Attack
Most heart attacks occur due to a blockage in the vessels that supply the heart with blood. That blockage is usually caused by a buildup of plaque, a sticky substance made of fats, cholesterol and white blood cells. If the blockage is 100 percent, the heart is no longer receiving the oxygen-rich blood it needs.
In response to a full or partial blockage, your body sends a signal to the spinal cord saying that the heart is in trouble. You may start to sweat a lot and experience pain in the chest, jaw, arms and hands. Breathing becomes harder because the heart is no longer supplying your lungs with enough blood to function at full capacity. You can begin to feel dizzy and even pass out because of the resulting lack of oxygen. The muscles of your heart start to die. Once heart muscle dies, it cannot be regenerated.
That’s the reason doctors call the first hour after a heart attack the “golden hour.” It’s the most critical time to provide medical care. Clot-busting drugs and artery-opening medications can save lives and prevent permanent damage to the heart and other organs, but only if the patient receives medical care as soon as possible.
Our Lifesaving ER Capabilities
Here’s a partial list of the medical technologies we use to treat patients experiencing heart attack symptoms.
An EKG (short for electrocardiogram) is often the first test used to diagnose a heart attack. This quick, painless test checks the heart’s electrical activity and records any disturbances to the heart’s rhythm. It can also help doctors detect any damage to the heart muscle.
During a heart attack, the heart releases certain enzymes, proteins that speed up chemical reactions in the body. By measuring these enzymes, our Emergency & Trauma Center can quickly determine if you are having a heart attack.
Giving oxygen reduces damage done to heart tissue.
Aspirin, nitroglycerin and clot-busting drugs can be used to prevent the formation of blood clots, open the blocked artery and restore blood flow.
If the heart stops during a heart attack, our ER team is trained in the use of an automated external defibrillator. This machine sends an electrical shock to jump-start a heart that has stopped beating and restore its normal rhythm.
CT Coronary Angiography
This test shows where arteries are blocked by injecting a dye into the bloodstream that is visible on X-rays.
If needed, our air ambulance service can transport patients requiring additional care once they are stabilized.
More Cardiac Resources
High frequency sound waves (ultrasound) are used to examine the heart’s structure and function.
This non-invasive procedure uses sound waves to assess the blood flow in the arteries and veins.
Sometimes called a treadmill or exercise test, a stress test is used to locate the cause of chest pain. During the test, the patient walks on a treadmill at a slow pace and then gradually increases speed. Heart rate, blood pressure and breathing are constantly monitored. An EKG measures the response of the heart to the stress of exercising.
A Holter monitor is a portable, battery-powered device, about the size of a small camera. It’s used to check and diagnose heart rhythm disturbances such as palpitations or arrhythmia. The Holter monitor records the heart’s activity over a 24-hour period or longer as the patient goes about his or her daily activities. The information collected is then analyzed by a cardiologist to determine the cause of the symptoms.
After a heart attack, people who participate in a cardiac rehab program have a 50 percent greater survival rate after three years compared to people who don’t.
Unfortunately, only about half of heart attack victims participate fully in a cardiac rehab program. Our team of specialists, nurses, dieticians and physical therapists can help you stop smoking, manage your blood pressure, create a heart-healthy diet, and develop an exercise program customized to your specific needs and goals.
Intensive Care Unit
Our intensive care unit provides 24/7 monitoring and treatment of patients with severe cardiac medical conditions, including heart attacks, angina and congestive heart failure.