STAT MI Cuts Heart Attack Damage
words by eve jacobs / illustration by eric miller
eart attacks demand swift medical action. The NJMS/UH cardiology team’s inspired application of cell phone technology to reducing delays in getting patients into the cardiac catheterization laboratory has had an enormous impact since its launch (noted just over two years ago in Time magazine’s review of the year’s top medical triumphs). The team uses new wireless technologies and software linked in a network to transmit high resolution electrocardiograms (ECGs) from the ambulance directly to cardiologists via their smart phones.
The time from administering the initial ECG in the field to availability for view by the physician on the smart phone is approximately 90 seconds. If the cardiologist verifies that the patient is having a heart attack, the patient skips the ER and is transported directly into the hospital’s cardiac catheterization lab for primary angioplasty.
Now, this same group has taken another giant step in heart care, demonstrating the value of the STAT MI program way beyond their own wildest imaginations. They’ve proven that heart attack size is smaller, length of hospital stay is shorter and mortality is reduced for patients treated through this early identification wireless network system. “The size of the heart attack is the biggest predictor of long-term outcome,” says Marc Klapholz, MD, professor of medicine and director of cardiology at UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School (NJMS) and University Hospital (UH), who heads up the project.
In addition, gender bias, which puts women at a serious disadvantage in heart attack treatment, is virtually eliminated. Klapholz explains: “The STAT MI program certainly benefits men — their time into treatment is cut by 63 minutes. But women benefit even more — their time is cut by 131 minutes, which translates into greatly reduced heart attack size and vastly improved pump function.”
And it doesn’t stop there. Edo Kaluski, MD, director of interventional cardiology at NJMS/UH, explains that there is a “halo effect,” which means that even heart attack patients who walked into the emergency room, so were not part of the STAT MI group, benefited since medical response time for all patients was reduced. “STAT MI had a good effect for everybody. And refinements leading to improvements have continued over time — meaning further reductions in response time and greater improvements for all STAT MI and other heart attack patients,” he says.