Every 43 seconds, someone in the United States has a heart attack and many more people visit a hospital with signs and symptoms that mimic heart disease.
A visit to the hospital is often a stressful time full of uncertainties, but new technology at Mercy Hospital Ada hopes to alleviate some of that stress by delivering diagnoses more quickly when doctors suspect heart problems. Early diagnosis and treatment of a heart condition can help patients live longer, more active lives.
“The goal is always to improve the quality of care and our response time,” said Liz Klingensmith, vice president of nursing at Mercy Hospital Ada. “This technology is really giving us the ability to do that.”
Taking the Fear Out of the Unknown
Each year, heart disease accounts for one in every four U.S. deaths — that’s about 610,000 heart disease-related deaths annually. Oklahoma has the third highest rate of death due to heart disease in the country.
Thanks to funding from the Mercy Health Foundation, Mercy Hospital Ada Auxiliary, the Dart Foundation and the Valley View Health and Wellness Foundation, Mercy Hospital Ada recently purchased three new electrocardiogram (EKG) machines that monitor the electrical activity in a person’s heart to check for heart attacks and any other heart-related problems.
The new machines use a program called MUSE, which immediately uploads a patient’s EKG into their electronic medical record at Mercy so the cardiologist can have instant access to the information to make a diagnosis and get patients on important treatments more quickly than in the past.
“For patients, the worst part about getting a diagnosis is the fear of the unknown when waiting for results,” said Klingensmith. “The technology really increases our response time for intervening for patients who have a cardiac issue, or, just providing the simple relief that their chest pain may not be related to a true cardiac event.”
Prior to using the new EKG machines and the MUSE technology, cardiologists would receive a printout of a patient’s EKG reading and would need to be at the hospital to read the test results. Now, using the new technology, cardiologists can view the EKG outside of the hospital through the electronic medical record to make the diagnosis.
“The MUSE technology will be a key element in our ability to quickly diagnose heart attacks when we are in remote locations or at the hospital,” said Dr. Timothy Medcalf, a cardiologist at the Oklahoma Heart Hospital Rural Clinic in Ada. “It will allow us to diagnose a patient and activate the cardiovascular response team in a matter of minutes as opposed to sometimes taking hours without MUSE.”
Listening to Your Body
According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 47 percent of deaths due to sudden cardiac arrest occur outside of a hospital. Recognizing early warning signs can save your life.
The signs of a heart attack come in many forms — from sudden and intense pain like what’s seen on movies and television shows to more mild symptoms that start slowly.
Possible signs of a heart attack include discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back; discomfort in other areas of the upper body, including one or both arms, the neck, stomach, jaw or back; shortness of breath; nausea/vomiting; lightheadedness; and a cold sweat.
In women, heart disease often presents with more mild symptoms than the classic chest pains and shortness of breath, making it a silent killer. These mild yet serious symptoms may include extreme fatigue, an impending sense of doom and pain on the right side of the body (as opposed to the typical pain on the left side).
If you or a loved one experiences some of these symptoms, it is important to seek immediate medical care before it’s too late.