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Every Second Counts

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A heart attack can happen anywhere and at any time. The United Regional Hospital sees about 350 to 400 heart attack patients per year and out of these numbers the majority of heart attack patients are men.

What helps save a lot of heart attack patient's lives at United Regional is what's called the door-to-balloon time. The door-to-balloon time is the time from when a patient enters the emergency room with heart attack symptoms to when members of the Cardiac Catheterization Lab inflate the blocked artery of the patient with a balloon to restore blood flow.

In November of 2013, Mark Thompson experienced heart attack symptoms while at work.

“I thought I had indigestion and the next thing I know, I’m on the ground. I remember the ambulance getting there, they put me on the gurney and started hooking up all the stuff up on me, the EKG stuff and all that," said heart attack survivor Mark Thompson.

What helped save Mark Thompson's life was time.

“Once we have our patient we want to have an EKG done in 5 minutes of being on scene. You have to   kind of hurry to get stuff done," said Paramedic for A.M.R., Tom Griffin.

“Our initiative at United Regional Hospital is to get them up here and open the artery within 90 minutes. So far we’ve been doing a really good job with getting them up here in 60 minutes or a little bit more,” said Director of Cardiac Services at United Regional Hospital, Lisa Green.

Since having heart attack, Thompson says he has changed his life in many ways.

“It’s changed everything, my diet of course. I still smoke a little bit now and I’m working to eliminate all of that, it changes everything you do about 80%. You start eating better, and just trying to take care of yourself a little better," said Thompson.

With EKG technology on emergency vehicles, heart readings are immediately sent to hospitals. From the received EKG, the hospital staff knows exactly what to expect when a heart attack patient arrives. Paramedics are even cutting off 10 to 15 minutes of time.

“I was told was the artery that was on me that was clogged up and another 15 minutes of that and I wouldn’t be here. It saved my life," said Thompson.

If you experience heart attack symptoms, remember to not drive yourself to the hospital, you could become unresponsive and have an accident. Even if you’re a passenger, the driver cannot treat you, you must call 9-1-1.

Taylor Barnes, Newschannel 6