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EKG Program: Faster Intervention for Heart Attack Patients

Thanks to Baptist Health Lexington, Lexington was one of the first cities in Central Kentucky to have a state-of-the-art, early-response heart attack intervention network.

The network is a marriage of technology and response protocols known as Pre-hospital 12-Lead Electrocardiography, or Pre-hospital EKG. The Lexington Fire Department's front-line emergency response vehicles are now equipped with 12-lead EKG units, and all of the city's major hospitals are prepared to receive the enhanced information that the units provide.

The program could potentially save thousands of lives, because it can substantially decrease the time-to-treatment experienced by a heart attack sufferer. The American Heart Association cites time-to-treatment as one of the most crucial factors in heart attack survival and recommends that a person having a heart attack receive emergency therapy within 30 to 60 minutes after the onset of chest pain.

According to one study, however, in many communities the time between arrival of the patient at the hospital and the initiation of therapy can range from 90 minutes to eight hours.

Previously in Lexington, a 12-lead electrocardiogram, the "gold standard" for diagnosing a heart attack, could only be obtained once a suspected heart attack sufferer physically arrived at an emergency department. Now, not only can 12-lead information be acquired in the field, the data can be instantaneously transmitted via cell phone to any emergency department in town.

In many cases, an emergency physician will be able to begin his or her diagnosis and prepare for treatment of a heart attack even before the patient comes through the doors. And because all of Lexington's hospitals can receive pre-hospital EKG information, heart attack victims need not sacrifice crucial travel time in order to benefit from the technology.

Pre-hospital EKG is another example of Baptist Health Lexington's commitment to helping individuals survive and reclaim their lives after a heart attack.