The Vital Heart Response program links Alberta Health Services Emergency Medical Services paramedics and emergency medicine physicians across central and northern Alberta to cardiologists within the Edmonton Zone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
With the Vital Heart Response program, an EMS paramedic or emergency physician can identify that a patient is having a severe heart attack based on the results of an electrocardiogram (EKG) – a test that checks for problems with the electrical activity of the heart. Once identified, the results can be transmitted to a cardiologist in Edmonton who can quickly help diagnose patients having severe heart attacks and decrease treatment time for opening a blocked heart artery.
The cardiologist can recommend an appropriate course of treatment tailored to each patient based on the best evidence available. Patients may be treated immediately by an EMS paramedic or emergency physician with specialized medications, such as clot-busting drugs, and/or be expedited for angioplasty – a non-surgical treatment that restores blood flow through blocked arteries performed in hospital by a cardiologist.
Quickly opening the blocked heart artery is essential for promoting the best possible outcomes for patients having a severe heart attack. Involving paramedics and emergency care physicians and staff streamlines the decision making in patient care, decreases time to treatment, and improves patient outcomes. The goal of the program is to treat patients having severe heart attacks in less than 30 minutes from first medical contact using a clot-busting drug, and in less than 90 minutes from first medical contact for angioplasty.
These treatment times are in accordance with the updated 2013 ACC/AHA guidelines endorsed by the Canadian Cardiovascular Society.
Manager, Vital Heart Response