ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI) is a very serious type of heart attack during which one of the heart’s major arteries, which provides oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to the heart muscle, is blocked. ST-segment elevation is an abnormality detected on the 12-lead ECG (electrocardiogram). Heart patients experiencing acute STEMI are at risk for developing life-threatening arrhythmias, like ventricular fibrillation, which causes sudden cardiac arrest—sometimes referred to as a “massive heart attack.”
STEMI can be treated with clot-busting drugs called thrombolytics (also called fibrinolytics) or with a primary percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) in a cardiac catheterization lab—also known as angioplasty or stenting.
One of the quality measures for STEMI care is the time of first medical contact, or the amount of time it takes to successfully re-open the occluded (or blocked) heart artery. The clock starts when the patient arrives at the hospital and stops when the balloon is inflated in the cardiac catheterization lab here in our Round Rock heart center.