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  • St. Luke's Heart and Medical Transport Services Work Together to Further Reduce "Door-to-Balloon" Time
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St. Luke’s Heart and Medical Transport Services Work Together to Further Reduce “Door-to-Balloon” Time

An Air St. Luke's helicopter prepares to land on the helipad at St. Luke's Boise Medical Center.
By Ken Dey, News and Community
July 17, 2014


If you have a heart attack, it’s critical to open your blocked artery in order to restore blood flow to your heart as quickly as possible. To do this, doctors perform an angioplasty, which involves inflating a tiny balloon in the patient’s artery to unblock the passageway. The time it takes from the diagnosis of heart attack to the completion of the angioplasty is called the “door-to-balloon” time.

Federal standards say that the “door-to-balloon” time needs to be 90 minutes or less. St. Luke’s has cut that average to less than 50 minutes.

Patients who suffer a heart attack in outlying areas are often transferred to St. Luke’s Boise or Meridian medical center for treatment in the cardiac catheterization labs. Patients are typically transferred to St. Luke’s via ground ambulance or helicopter by Air St. Luke’s.

In an effort to further improve the “door-to-balloon” time and thus the patient’s outcome, St. Luke’s has instituted a new process that requires staff from the catheterization lab to be at the helipad when the patient arrives, rather than waiting for the patient to arrive at the catheterization lab.

Meeting the patient at the helipad allows staff to receive report from the transport team and start the pre-procedure requirements while the patient is being routed to the catheterization lab. This approach allows the physician and staff to start the angioplasty procedure sooner and further improve St. Luke’s door-to-balloon time.

Recently, St. Luke’s Heart doctors and staff held a series of mock heart-attack drills in conjunction with Air St. Luke’s to practice this new protocol.

Time is critical during a heart attack. The faster a doctor can open a blocked artery and restore blood flow to the heart, the better the chances are that the patient will survive and have less permanent damage to the heart. To see more photos of the training click here.

According to the American Heart Association, heart attacks are the leading cause of death in the United States. Each year, 600,000 people die of heart disease and more than 5 million Americans with chest pain will go to the hospital.

Cardiovascular and heart care at St. Luke’s goes back more than four decades. In 1968, Dr. Rodney Herr performed Idaho’s first open-heart surgery at St. Luke’s. Today, St. Luke has collaborative relationships with the region’s top cardiologists, and cardiothoracic and vascular surgeons, under the umbrella of St. Luke’s Heart. St. Luke’s Heart performs more cardiovascular procedures than any other Idaho hospital, and consistently ranks well above the national averages in cardiovascular performance measures.

In November, St. Luke’s Boise and Meridian medical centers were jointly named a 2014 Top 50 program for cardiovascular care by Truven Health Analytics.

This is the eighth time St. Luke’s received the recognition. In previous years, it was the Top 100 award, but for the last three years Truven Health chose to single out just 50 hospitals. St. Luke’s is the only Idaho hospital to be named to the 2014 list.

Find out more about St. Luke's Heart on our website.

About The Author

Ken Dey served as Public Relations Coordinator at St. Luke's from 2008-2014.

Related Clinic

St. Luke's Boise Medical Center
190 E. Bannock St.
Boise, ID 83712
(208) 381-2222

Related Clinic

St. Luke's Meridian Medical Center
520 S. Eagle Rd.
Meridian, ID 83642
(208) 706-5000