This year, many Virginians will suffer an acute ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI). Despite advances in recognition and treatment, a significant number of patients will become disabled or even die. Research has shown that reducing the time to treatment significantly decreases mortality and improves outcomes.
The American Heart Association, American College of Cardiology, American College of Emergency Physicians, and the Office of Emergency Medical Services have made early reperfusion an important goal in STEMI care.
Through public health initiatives such as the ACC d2b campaign, Project Upstart and other individual efforts by hospitals and EMS agencies, great strides have been made. However, many patients still present to emergency departments and hospitals that cannot offer around the clock primary PCI. For many Virginians, their hopes for rapid treatment and a good outcome will depend on when and where they have their heart attack. In an ideal system, patients anywhere in the state of Virginia would have equal access to rapid reperfusion.
But this remains a complex challenge. It requires the collaboration of many different personnel and organizations across the spectrum of heart attack care: EMS, Emergency Medicine physicians and nurses, cardiologists, administrators, public health officials, and others. No one group can “go it alone” and hope to have an impact. Now, via AHA’s Mission: Lifeline initiative, resources are being harnessed to help facilitate alliances among these key stakeholders. The goal of this new AHA initiative is to provide comprehensive and multi-level strategies for improving STEMI care in every corner of our country.
The “Virginia Heart Attack Coalition” (VHAC) is a volunteer collaborative that will initiate the AHA’s Mission: Lifeline guidelines in Virginia and foster cooperation and coordination of STEMI care providers. VHAC is a diverse collaboration of organizations and health providers dedicated to improving the care of Virginians who suffer a heart attack. Comprised of individuals from academic and private institutions, EMS, professional organizations, and other individuals and groups committed to enhancing such care, it is a multidisciplinary, broad-based coalition born out of a strong desire to improve the outcomes of heart attack patients. VHAC will support participants in sharing ideas, coordinate regional care, collect outcomes data, and access education, funding and other resources. The diverse structure of VHAC will position Virginia to draw upon the organization, strengths and resources of the AHA (via Mission: Lifeline) as the primary organizer of these efforts, while at the same time provide a clear conduit to maximize the efforts and contributions of all other involved entities.
Important first steps are underway. These include an inventory of STEMI care in our state, funding and other support from the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association, formation of a broad-based task force, and a calendar of meetings and other events.
We hope you will join many of your fellow providers across the state in this vital mission. Together we can improve the outcomes of heart attack patients in Virginia!