After you call 9-1-1 for chest pain, know that a coordinated emergency team is springing into action

When it comes to chest pain, shortness of breath or shoulder discomfort, one call can save a life.

Chen and Buzy

Interventional cardiologist Michael Chen, MD, left, and emergency room physician Joel Buzy, MD, consult on a case at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center.

“If someone is having symptoms of a heart attack, they should not wait or try to treat it themselves. More importantly, they should not drive themselves to the hospital,” says Joel Buzy, MD, emergency room physician at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center. “Calling 9-1-1 is the quickest and most effective way to receive lifesaving treatment.”

Teamwork Takes Over

When a person experiences chest pain and calls 9-1-1, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) sends an emergency vehicle with staff trained in performing lifesaving procedures. Paramedics assess the person using an electrocardiogram (EKG) and send the results directly to the emergency room. This is used at local hospitals, including Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park and Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center in Rockville, both recognized for their exceptional care of chest pain patients by the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care (SCPC).

The experienced and coordinated emergency teams at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center or Washington Adventist Hospital then notify the chest pain team to prepare the cardiac catheterization laboratory, where a procedure can be performed to open the blocked artery.

Time is of the Essence

“With a heart attack, time is muscle,” says Michael Chen, MD, interventional cardiologist at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center and medical director of the cardiac catheterization lab at Washington Adventist Hospital. “The quicker a procedure is performed to open a blocked artery for a patient, the better the outcome.”

Calling 9-1-1 improves treatment speed and enhances medical supervision for the person, which improves his or her chances of recovery.

“We have a well-coordinated system in place from the time that EMS first sees the patient to when the chest pain team performs a procedure,” says Drew White, MD, director of emergency medicine at Washington Adventist Hospital. “We are constantly reviewing cases with EMS and analyzing our process to look for areas of improvement.”

Nationally Recognized Care

Washington Adventist Hospital was the first Maryland hospital to achieve accreditation as a Cycle IV Chest Pain Center with PCI (percutaneous coronary intervention, or angioplasty) from SCPC. A Cycle IV accreditation, the highest offered, emphasizes the importance of standardized diagnostic and treatment programs used for patients who have chest pain and other heart attack symptoms.

Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Centeris one of only two hospitals in the state to receive the Gold Performance Achievement Award four times in a row by the American College of Cardiology Foundation’s National Cardiovascular Data Registry ACTION Registry®-GWTGTM (Get With the Guidelines). To achieve this, hospitals must consistently meet guidelines for specific measures in caring for heart attack patients, such as how quickly a patient receives treatment.