When the symptoms began, Dora Blunt thought she had the stomach flu or indigestion. “I had a headache, nausea and vomiting,” she said. “I never dreamed those could be the symptoms of a heart attack.”
She was in the bathroom for a couple of hours when she realized she couldn’t catch her breath. That’s when she knew something much more serious was wrong. “The pain finally centered in my chest and I called for my husband, but couldn’t wake him. I knew I had to get to the phone.” Fighting severe dizziness, she managed to call for an ambulance before crawling to the front door to unlock it. “At that point, I couldn’t get off the floor,” she remembers. “I sent the dog to wake my husband.”
Paramedics performed an electrocardiogram in the ambulance on the way to Mercy Hospital Springfield. The test confirmed the heart attack. The team in the cardiac catheterization laboratory, which is where imaging is performed on the heart and arteries, was notified to get ready for her arrival. “They had a team waiting,” Blunt remembers.
“Treatment and diagnosis start even before patients arrive in the emergency room,” explained Dr. Frank Kim, Mercy STEMI (heart attack) medical director. “It’s crucial that people who suspect they’re having a heart attack call an ambulance for help, so treatment can start as soon as possible.”
By the time she arrived in the ER, Dora was in cardiogenic shock, which meant her heart wasn’t pumping enough blood to meet her body’s needs. “She was immediately taken to the cath lab where we found a critical blockage in the heart artery. We treated it with the most up-to-date guidelines, including a stent,” said Dr. Kim.
Having a team ready and taking the right steps are critical for heart attack patients. Mercy Hospital Springfield follows national guidelines that have been proven to save lives and improve patients’ health, and that attention to detail has earned it the American College of Cardiology’s Platinum Performance Achievement Award. Mercy Hospital Springfield is one of only 319 hospitals nationwide to achieve this top honor.
“Heart attack patients are often the most seriously ill patients that require coordinated care from both the cardiovascular team and emergency personnel,” said Dr. Kim. “The therapies and services we’re offering have been proven to save lives and help patients recover more fully.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that each year, about 735,000 Americans have a heart attack. A heart attack happens when a blood clot in a coronary artery partially or completely blocks blood flow to the heart muscle. In Blunt’s case, doctors got the blood flowing again in enough time.
Blunt hopes her experience will help others recognize the signs of heart attack, which are often different in women than men. “What’s scary is that if you don’t get help within a certain time frame, you won’t survive it,” she said.
After her heart attack, Blunt was determined to do everything her doctors recommended, including daily weight and blood pressure checks. Now, more than four years later and at age 81, she feels her heart is strong. “I do everything I want to do,” she said. “I just may have to do it a little differently.”
Take the right steps toward heart attack care. After seeking professional care, Download the Mercy Heart-Healthy Guide for further information about heart disease management, treatment and general heart health.
The full name of the award is the American College of Cardiology’s NCDR ACTION Registry-GWTG Platinum Performance Award (National Cardiovascular Data Registry ACTION Registry-Get With The Guidelines). The ACTION Registry-GWTG is a partnership between the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association with partnering support from the American College of Emergency Physicians and the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care.
Mercy Springfield Communities is comprised of Mercy Hospital Springfield, named in the 100 Top Hospitals®; an orthopedic hospital; a rehab hospital; a children’s hospital; five regional hospitals in Lebanon, Aurora, Cassville, Mountain View, Missouri and Berryville, Arkansas; and Mercy Clinic, a 500-plus physician clinic with 70 locations throughout the region. It is part of Mercy, the seventh largest Catholic health care system in the U.S, which serves millions annually. Mercy includes 46 acute care and specialty (heart, children’s, orthopedic and rehab) hospitals, more than 700 physician practices and outpatient facilities, 40,000 co-workers and more than 2,000 Mercy Clinic physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.