Monday, January 30, 2012

Beating the Clock

Sentara Heart and Vascular Center at Potomac Hospital provides fast, lifesaving care to its first heart attack patientMarcel Huard is living a healthier life after being treated at Sentara Heart and Vascular Center at Potomac Hospital. He credits the team with saving his life.

“I think I’m having a heart attack.”

Those were the seven words Woodbridge resident, Marcel Huard, said when he arrived at Sentara Potomac Hospital’s Irene V. Hylton Emergency Care Center. What happened after that, he says, was a blur.

“After I said that to the front desk person, the next thing I knew I was in a wheelchair with about six or seven people around me being rushed down a hall,” says Marcel. “It was instantaneous and it was like a TV show.”

One morning, the 56-year-old Air Force officer was just getting over a cold and, even though he didn’t feel very well, decided to venture to a local coffee shop. As he drove to the coffee shop he started to question his decision.

“By the time I arrived at the coffee shop I was feeling pretty bad and it wasn’t because of my cold,” says Marcel. “I was having severe pain in my chest and down my left arm.”

At that point, he drove himself to Sentara Potomac Hospital and uttered those seven words. [Editor’s note: if you ever feel chest pain, please stop and call 9-1-1]

“What Mr. Huard was experiencing was indeed a heart attack,” says Dr. Balbir Sidhu, a cardiologist at Sentara Heart and Vascular Center at Potomac Hospital. “The type of heart attack he had is called a STEMI, which is an acronym for ST segment elevation myocardial infarction. When someone has a STEMI, the coronary artery, which supplies blood to the heart, is completely blocked by a blood clot.

“When this happens, time is of the essence. We took Mr. Huard into the Cardiac Catheterization Lab at the Heart and Vascular Center and performed an interventional procedure to place a stent into the blocked artery. A stent is a small tube that we insert into the artery to open up the blockage and allow blood to flow through to the heart. Without the proper blood flow, a heart virtually dies.”

Before the Sentara Heart and Vascular Center at Potomac Hospital opened in May, patients like Marcel would have had quite a different experience.

“In addition to a team of expert clinicians our new center offers advanced treatment of cardiac and vascular conditions utilizing state of the art technology,” says Tricia Hill, MSN, R.N., senior director of Nursing. “In the past, patients experiencing STEMIs required emergent transfer to an alternate facility. Now, at Sentara Potomac, it is a privilege to provide advanced life saving cardiac and vascular care for our community right here in our community.”

“My doctor told me that I didn’t have any time to waste,” says Marcel. “The time it took from when I walked into the door until the stent was inserted was only about 45 minutes. If I had to be transported to another facility, it may have taken too long. I’m so fortunate that the Sentara Heart and Vascular Center was able to successfully treat me.”

Marcel stayed in the hospital for two days after his procedure and is now back to his normal daily routine.

“My doctor told me that my heart suffered no damage as a result of the blockage,” says Marcel. “I’m glad so many people were ready to go when I got to the hospital.”

The Sentara Heart and Vascular Center at Potomac Hospital opened in May and offers residents in our community the option of receiving cardiovascular care closer to home, including interventional cardiac catheterization and other procedures to treat heart and vascular diseases.

Click here to see a guided tour of the Sentara Heart and Vascular Center at Potomac Hospital.