The new EKG technology is called AirStrip, which allows for quick and distance diagnosis before the patient even gets to the hospital. An EKG, or electrocardiogram, is a test that checks for problems with heart rhythm and can detect a heart attack. The rhythm is shown as a series of line drawings with spikes and dips. By evaluating the EKG, cardiologists can determine if a heart attack has occurred and what the urgent treatment should be.
“At Redmond, you don’t have to wait to get to the emergency room for this diagnostic testing,” said Marsha Colwell, director of cardiology. “While you are still in your home with emergency personnel, your cardiologist is able to see your heart rhythm on his secured smart phone or tablet, make a diagnosis and prepare the emergency room and cath lab as needed to immediately care for you.”
According to Colwell, this new technology reinforces the importance of immediate activation of emergency services for heart attack care.
“So many people wait to feel better or have someone drive them to the ER because they don’t want to call an ambulance,” she said. “But what they may not realize is how much faster they can receive potentially life-saving care by calling an ambulance. Time is heart muscle and the sooner a person can receive intervention, the greater their chance of survival.”
Colwell is encouraging potential patients to know when to call 911 by recognizing the symptoms linked to heart attacks.
Symptoms vary among individuals, according to Colwell.
“Everyone is different,” she said. “Symptoms may come and go. Symptoms may also advance to becoming constant and severe. Often, women have different symptoms than men.”
According to Colwell, people may or may not experience any or all of these symptoms: nausea, pain that travels down one or both arms, jaw pain, fatigue, anxiety, chest pressure, squeezing or discomfort, back pain, shortness of breath, feeling of fullness in the abdomen or chest and feelings of doom.
“Most heart damage occurs in the first two hours of a heart attack, 85 percent in the first critical hour,” Colwell said. “So it’s important to know the subtle warning signs of a heart attack and act immediately. That means calling 911 to activate emergency medical services right away. The longer you delay in acting, the more heart muscle will die. Don’t wait for the symptoms to go away. Don’t lose time getting in the car to drive or for someone to drive you to the hospital. Don’t risk having a cardiac arrest in the car. When EMS arrives at your home, life saving care begins right then, before you leave.”
Officials said this use of new technology and the many resources doctors have in house are partly why in the fourth quarter of 2012, Redmond’s average heart attack treatment times beat the averages for the top 10 percent of hospitals in the nation at 48.9 minutes from the time the patient hits the door to the time the blocked artery is opened.
Redmond is the only hospital in Northwest Georgia that offers open heart surgery, and the addition of new technology like AirStrip ensures that patients can receive all the treatment they need close to home.
“At Redmond, you don’t have to be transferred to another hospital in mid-emergency,” said Colwell. “Whether your needs are routine or urgent to the point of requiring open heart surgery, Redmond Regional Medical Center is the only local heart hospital offering complete heart care.”