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Act fast for optimal heart health

Time is muscle. If you're having a heart attack, fast care not only increases your chance of survival, it also gives you a better chance of avoiding long-term heart trouble, including heart failure.

"Every minute counts," says Willie Maxwell, R.N., manager of Lake Regional's Cardiac Catheterization Lab. "During a heart attack, a portion of the heart muscle is dying. Heart attacks often are caused by blocked blood vessels. Promptly restoring that blood flow to the heart is the best way to reduce the chance of permanent damage or disability."

In 2018, Lake Regional's median door-to-balloon time was 44 minutes, a time that is better than 9 out of 10 hospitals nationwide. Door-to-balloon is the amount of time that passes between a patient arriving in the Emergency Department with a heart attack and the heart care team restoring blood flow in the Cardiac Catheterization Lab.

The process used to restore blood flow is called angioplasty. It also can be done to prevent a heart attack.

Guided by X-rays, the cardiologist threads a small catheter through the blood vessels to the heart. This catheter has a deflated balloon at its tip. When it reaches the narrowed or blocked part of the artery, the cardiologist inflates the balloon to compress the blockage.

"You've likely heard of someone with heart trouble getting a stent," Maxwell says. "This is a wire mesh tube that gets inserted during angioplasty and stays in place when the catheters are removed. The stent helps hold the artery open."

Sources: American Heart Association; National Institutes of Health

Love Your Heart!

Get your heart checked at our cardiovascular screening on Saturday, Feb. 15, at Lake Regional Hospital. Register at

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