TREATMENT of cardiac patients has been “working very well” since a cath lab at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital opened on a 24-7 basis, according to Dr Cathal O’Donnell, medical director of the National Ambulance Service.
Until last October, victims of a STEMI heart attack in the Mid-West were being taken to Galway by ambulance for treatment if they were struck outside the hours of 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
A STEMI is a particularly severe heart attack involving a total blockage of the coronary artery and requires an urgent angiogram and lifesaving surgical intervention. The procedure, involving the insertion of a balloon in the blood vessel to relieve the blockage, is now being offered to patients at Limerick Regional around-the-clock.
“It has been working really well and particularly since the service went 24 hours in Limerick, we have had some really good outcomes,” said Dr O’Donnell, who previously worked in the emergency department at the Regional.
“There has been a couple of cardiac arrests that the ambulance service resuscitated in the field and instead of them going into the emergency department, they have gone straight from the back of the ambulance into the cath lab, had the procedure done and been discharged from hospital perfectly well.”
Management of cardiac arrest is one of the main themes of a conference being held for medical professionals at Limerick Racecourse on April 27.
Dr O’Donnell is co-chair of Resus 2013, a day-long event that will hear from Prof Bryan McNally, of Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia and from Dr Richard Lyon, University of Edinburgh, on improving outcomes in cardiac arrest.
“Our survival rate from cardiac arrests is about 7% which would be only be OK by international standards,” said Dr O’Donnell, who said improving this would be a focus for the National Ambulance Service over the next two years.
“If your heart stops now and if someone doesn’t start doing CPR on you within about four or five minutes, your chances of survival are pretty slim. And every minute that goes by, your chances decrease by about 10%.”
Those interested in registering for Resus 2013 can contact Jennifer Fitzgerald on 061 234756, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website (www.resus.ie).