The American Heart Association today announced Mission: Lifeline, for Western Pennsylvania. Mission: Lifeline is a community-based initiative aimed at activating the appropriate chain of events critical to opening a blocked artery to the heart that is causing a heart attack.
Through this initiative, the American Heart Association will connect the necessary stakeholders who will create a new set of best practices for care of victims of the deadliest type of heart attack, ST-Elevated Myocardial Infarction (STEMI).
Nearly 400,000 people suffer from STEMI heart attacks annually. A patient experiencing a STEMI heart attack has less than two hours to receive treatment or they are likely to experience significant heart damage, full cardiac arrest or death. “Saving time saves lives. Getting STEMI patients the timely care they need involves a series of events that must flow seamlessly to be most effective,” said Bruce MacLoud, M.D. emergency physician at UPMC Mercy Hospital and co-chair of ML steering committee for Western PA. “The goal of Mission: Lifeline is to develop community-based systems across the country so patients can get appropriate care more quickly.”
This process starts with patient education to make the public more aware of the signs of a heart attack (which can be more subtle than most people realize) and the importance of calling 911 for emergency medical services (EMS) for transport to the hospital. Unfortunately, over half of STEMI patients either drive themselves to the hospital or are driven by family and friends resulting in a delay in life-saving diagnosis and treatment that trained EMS personnel could provide.
“Quality of care cannot improve without a major emphasis on process improvement and systems change, said Don Fischer M.D., senior vice president and chief medical officer for Highmark Inc. and Mission:Lifeline Champion. “Our community has much to gain if we can facilitate the adoption of best practices for STEMI management. In doing so, we can assure our citizens that they will benefit through lower morbidity, decreased mortality and more productive lives.”
The American Heart Association is uniquely positioned to activate resources to implement the systems of care that will improve patient outcomes. Major Foundations in our region are stepping up in support of this initiative, providing funds for education and training for quality improvement throughout 29 counties in Western Pennsylvania.
Mission:Lifeline for Western Pennsylvania is partially funded by DSF Charitable Foundation, Richard King Mellon Foundation, Highmark Foundation, The Pittsburgh Foundation, Jewish Healthcare Foundation and W.P. Snyder III Charitable Fund.
The American Heart Association is proud to be a leader on national and local fronts in developing systems that deliver evidenced-based quality health care to patients. Our guidelines for emergency cardiovascular care, our stroke center certification program and our Get With The Guidelines hospital quality improvement initiative have already saved many lives, but there is more we can do. Mission: Lifeline will help save more lives.