Mission Lifeline: Improve Heart Attack Care and Save Lives
ST. PAUL, Minn. - When a person is suffering from a heart attack, every second counts, and a new campaign starting up this week across Minnesota aims to hasten care and increase the number of survivors. Retired physician Brian Livermore of Bemidji says it's critical to seek immediate help upon the onset of symptoms, as he did last August when he suffered an acute blockage, also known as a "STEMI" heart attack, and otherwise known as the "widow maker."
"It was pain I had never felt before and within 25 minutes from the time my pain started, I was in a cath lab and they were opening up two arteries," he said, referring to catheterization. "And because it was so short of a time, I'm back to better than normal."
Dr. Livermore says the best call to make when your life is on the line is to 911, with symptoms that can include chest pain, discomfort in the arms or jaw, shortness of breath and nausea. More information is online at the American Heart Association of Minnesota website.
Heart disease is currently the second-leading cause of death in Minnesota, and Livermore says the pressure will only continue to mount as the population continues to age.
"I'm one of the first of the baby boomers, and there's a whole bunch of us coming through," he said. "And it's important to get those people the care they need as quickly as possible, rather than allowing them to end up living the rest of their life with chronic heart failure or other problems."
The education campaign about recognizing the symptoms and taking immediate action is part of what's called Mission: Lifeline. Dr. Jeffrey Watkins at Sanford Bemidji Medical Center says the goal is to save lives by improving systems of heart attack care, especially in rural Minnesota.
"Networks established throughout large areas in order to funnel people into where they can be definitively treated have been proven to save lives," he said.
Watkins says Mission: Lifeline will include the updating of ambulance and hospital equipment for quicker diagnoses, along with the training of EMS staff on proper care protocols.