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Prehospital Cath Lab Activation for Heart Attacks (STEMI) Fact Sheet

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What is a STEMI?

An ST segment elevation myocardial infarction, or STEMI, is a type of heart attack that occurs when a coronary artery is completely blocked by a blood clot.

STEMI protocol at UK HealthCare

When responding to a possible heart attack, specially trained paramedics administer a painless test called an electrocardiogram, or EKG (also called ECG), which can help detect a heart attack.

If the test and other warning signs indicate the patient is in the midst of a heart attack, with the patient’s consent the paramedics activate the cardiac catheterization team on their way to the UK Gill Heart Institute. Once the patient arrives, the cardiac catheterization team, led by a physician who specializes in treating heart disease, assesses the patient and the EKG to determine whether they should perform an emergency angioplasty, a minimally-invasive procedure to open blocked blood vessels. Patients who are not thought to be having a heart attack are taken to the emergency department for further assessment.

The new protocol, thought to be the first for an academic medical center was established in the wake of a study of 10 centers that utilized preactivation of cardiac catheterization teams enroute to the emergency department. The study, published earlier this year in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, showed that more than 86 percent of those patients were able to receive a potentially life-saving cardiac catheterization within the recommended time frame.

Why is a STEMI protocol important?

STEMI protocols save valuable time. For every 30 minutes saved, a heart attack patient’s survival greatly increases. UK HealthCare’s goal is to have the heart attack patient under treatment in 90 minutes or less from the time paramedics reach the patient.

Because paramedics have already ruled that the patient is having a heart attack before they reach the hospital, the patient is directly transported to the catheterization lab and bypasses the emergency department. This prevents the patient from spending extra time in the emergency department undergoing evaluation and allows treatment to begin upon arrival to the hospital. The reduction in the time it takes for a heart attack patient to be treated is what makes this protocol so important.

About the UK Gill Heart Institute

The Gill Heart Institute unites high-quality clinical heart care with leading-edge heart health research. We’re making our move to become one of the top 10 public cardiovascular facilities in the nation. By applying our research successes to clinical care, our high-ranking doctors and staff provide patients with the most modern and technologically advanced concepts of heart and circulatory health.

For More Information

To find out more on the Gill Heart Institute, call 1-800-333-8874 (toll free) or visit us online at

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Page last updated: 5/1/2014 1:12:01 PM