Heart disease is the number one killer in South Dakota and nationwide annually. This year an estimated 1.4 million people will suffer a heart attack. Approximately 400,000 of those victims will experience a STEMI. Unfortunately, approximately 30% of STEMI patients do not receive any form of treatment to restore blood flow, whether through clot-busting drugs commonly referred to as thrombolytics or percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), the latter being the preferred therapy which uses mechanical means such as stents, balloon angioplasty or surgery.
Time is muscle. The outcome of STEMI events depends greatly on the care patients receive and the timeframe in which they receive it. The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology's guidelines recommend that balloon angioplasty be performed within 90 minutes - preferably less - of arrival at any hospital.
South Dakota has 66 counties covering nearly 76,000 square miles. Currently in South Dakota, only six hospitals are capable of performing PCI procedures and only five regularly receive STEMI patients.
While half of all PCI-capable facilities are located in Sioux Falls, the state's largest city, the distance between other PCI-capable facilities is great. More than 100 miles separate separate the closest PCI-capable facilities in South Dakota, while the greatest distance between PCI-capable facilities is approximately 350 miles in the gap that separates Sioux Falls and Rapid City.
In addition, South Dakota is a state heavily dependent upon volunteer EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians) to operate ambulance services across the state, particularly in rural areas, and South Dakota is a state with limited regulation and limited access to public funding sources.
In partnership with the medical community, this collaboration has the power to transform patient care for future heart attack victims in South Dakota. This innovative regional collaboration will work to ensure equipment compatibility, consistent training and uniform protocols for both transporting and treating heart attack patients across the region.