New ambulance technology is saving heart attack victims - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

New ambulance technology is saving heart attack victims

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE)- When experiencing symptoms of a heart attack, a person should call 911. There are now test machines on board ambulances that can truly make a difference in whether a person survives.

For the past couple of years in Kentuckiana and across the country there's been a push to get EKGs in the hands of emergency medical technicians and with good reason.

At 49, Paul Parrish experienced his second heart attack in just over a year. He had the classic symptoms. "I got short of breath and nauseated" Parrish said.

His daughter called 911 and within minutes, he was not only on board the ambulance, he was also attached to leads that were transmitting the activity of his heart straight to the ER doctors at Floyd Memorial Hospital.

And the data is proving the machines are making a difference. "Because time is muscle" explained Floyd Memorial Emergency Physician Dr. Tom Harris. "When you're having a heart attack, the soon that you can restore flow to that part of the heart that's affected, the better" Harris said.

The national standard is to open the heart vessel in under 90 minutes, but with the on-board EKGs, Floyd Memorial is often reducing that time to under 60 minutes.

Parrish is one of those patients. The ER team is able to prepare before the ambulance arrives, getting the cardiologist and cath lab team in place.

"It lowers the amount of damage to the heart and allows the person to reach definitive therapy faster" Harris said.

Which also decreases the long term damage such as congestive heart failure.

Parrish feels fortunate after suffering two heart attacks now, the damage to his heart is actually minimal. "I think the speed of it helped as much as anything. I was ready to go back to work in an hour, two hours after ambulance got there" Parrish said.

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