LHSC celebrates Heart Month while helping hundreds of patients recover from heart attacks


For Immediate Release:
February 12, 2010


(LONDON, Ontario) –The first 90 minutes following a heart attack are key to a patient’s recovery. In those 90 minutes, health care providers must restore blood flow to the heart to reduce chances of damage to heart muscle tissue, and to prevent death.

As London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) celebrates national Heart Month, the organization is also pleased to acknowledge a cooperative partnership and program that has allowed health care providers to better diagnose and quickly treat potentially lethal heart attacks in those precious 90 minutes.

The partnership exists between LHSC’s Cardiology program, Emergency Departments and Middlesex London Emergency Medical Services. The program, which was launched February 14, 2006, is known as Primary PCI (percutaneous intervention, more commonly known as angioplasty), where a balloon is threaded through an artery in the leg to the clot in the heart and inflated to open up the artery.

"Evidence shows that a person whose heart is treated with Primary PCI within the first 90 minutes of having their attack will likely recuperate faster than someone treated with medicine to dissolve the blocked artery,” says Marlene Allegretti, Nurse Practitioner for the Primary PCI program.

Before the Primary PCI program was in place, paramedics would go to the nearest hospital where the patient would be treated or stabilized and then transferred to another hospital. The bypass protocol is an instruction given to paramedics in the region to take a patient with a heart attack directly to LHSC’s University Hospital.

"Paramedics are now trained to do 12-lead ECG (electrocardiogram) on the person having a heart attack,” says Joshua Denning, Advanced Care Paramedic and Manager of Station #1 at the Middlesex London Emergency Medical Services. “If the data qualifies as a heart attack, paramedics contact the cardiologist to confirm the patient is a candidate for Primary PCI.”

A feature that is being introduced next month is the use of new smartphone technology. These handheld devices transmit the ECG information directly to the cardiologist, which further strengthens diagnosis of a heart attack.

Once a diagnosis is confirmed, the ambulance then bypasses all other emergency departments within the London Middlesex area, and paramedics are instructed to take the patient directly to LHSC’s University Hospital for an immediate Primary PCI.

Denning adds, “Calling 911 is the best way to get help in any medical emergency.”

About London Health Sciences Centre
London Health Sciences Centre has been in the forefront of medicine in Canada for over 130 years and offers the broadest range of specialized clinical services in Ontario. Building on the traditions of its founding hospitals to provide compassionate care in an academic teaching setting, London Health Sciences Centre is home to South Street Hospital, University Hospital, Victoria Hospital and Children’s Hospital, two family medical centres, and Lawson Health Research Institute - a joint research initiative with St Joseph’s Health Care, London. As a leader in medical discovery and health research, London Health Sciences Centre has a history of over 30 international and national firsts and attracts top clinicians and researchers from around the world. As a regional referral centre, London Health Sciences Centre cares for the most medically complex patients including critically injured adults and children in Southwestern Ontario and beyond. The hospital’s 10,000 staff, physicians, students and volunteers provide care for more than one million patient visits a year. For more information visit www.lhsc.on.ca

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For more information contact:

Stephan Beckhoff
Corporate Communications and Public Relations
London Health Sciences Centre
519-685-8500, ext. 74772

After-hours assistance:

Call LHSC Switchboard at 519-685-8500 and ask to page the communication consultant on-call.