South Carolina Hospitals Slash Door-to-Balloon Time

Emergency medical technicians, physicians, nurses and other hospital staff continue to reduce the time it takes for heart attack patients to receive treatment.

On average, South Carolina hospitals have reduced their door-to-balloon time to 58 minutes, according to the American Heart Association. That is down from 62 minutes since 2010.

Door-to-balloon time is a term coined by the American College of Cardiology to describe the length of time between a patient arriving at the hospital and a physician's inflation of a miniature balloon inside the patient's coronary artery. Once the vessel is opened by the balloon, doctors typically insert a stent to ensure that it stays open.

Research has shown that the quicker the patient receives care in a hospital's cardiac catherization lab to open up the blocked or narrowed artery that supplies blood to the heart muscle, the better the result for the patient.

The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology recommend a door-to-balloon time of 90 minutes or less. Hospitals, physicians and paramedics across the country as well as South Carolina have incorporated a number of measures to ensure compliance with this standard, and to decrease this time for patient whenever possible.

In South Carolina, public and private partners are working together statewide in the SC Heart Care Alliance to improve heart attack care through the SC Mission: Lifeline program.

"We should be most proud that this high level of collaboration is resulting in lives being saved every day statewide," said South Carolina Hospital Association Senior Vice President of Quality and Patient Safety Rick Foster, MD. "We are also working to provide guidance and educational resources to physician practices, including urgent care centers on the most timely and effective way to triage and transfer acute heart attack and stroke patients via EMS to cardiac receiving/interventional hospitals."