LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - Comanche County Memorial Hospital is Southwest Oklahoma's major heart attack hospital. With its advanced heart program and the number of cardiovascular doctors on staff, they work with other area hospitals to make sure the patient gets to CCMH quickly - giving doctors enough time to perform a potentially lifesaving procedure during a heart attack.
STEMI is a full-blown heart attack caused by the complete blockage of a heart artery.
"The faster we go in, the better the outcome" Interventional Cardiologist Dr. Bassam Saliba says.
Dr. Saliba says patients should look for signs of a heart attack, because time is muscle.
"We want the patient when they're having chest pain to show up quick to the hospital," Dr. Saliba says. "Because if you show up six hours later, even if we take you within 90 minutes to open your artery, we have really missed a golden opportunity."
Area hospitals like Duncan, Anadarko, and Altus to name a few, try to have heart attack patients in en route to CCMH within 30 minutes. Some of the ambulances from other hospitals can even start life saving procedures while in transport.
"If they see this is a heart attack, some of the medication we want to give is available in the ambulance, so they give the patient the medicine and keep driving to Lawton," Dr. Saliba says.
Once in the cath lab, CCMH Cardiologists and their team perform a procedure like an angiogram to see the blockage and open up the patient's artery.
"As soon as the patient arrives, we're rolling them immediately to the cath lab, putting them on the table," Dr. Saliba says. "While I'm taking history and examining them, the team is getting everything ready and then we start immediately."
The hospital's goal is to have a seamless and rapid sequence from when they get to their local hospital to CCMH's cath lab where they can intervene.
"The goal was to get the patient in house within 90 minutes into the cath lab, and open the artery up," Dr. Saliba says.
He says the working relationship CCMH has with other local hospitals is helping to save lives.
"It's to the patients advantage, and that's why we're working together non stop," Dr. Saliba says. "Everytime there is a patient who comes on time, we're communicating that things really worked great. How we can do better."
When it comes to heart attacks, time is muscle. So knowing the symptoms, and where to go is important.