Time is of the essence in detecting and treating a heart attack. The first point of care for a person who suffers a heart attack is the Emergency Department, where specially trained physicians and staff quickly assess and treat patients. The immediate goal is to open blocked arteries quickly to restore blood flow to the heart and minimize damage to the heart muscle.

Door-to-Balloon Time

One critical measure of emergency heart care is “door-to-balloon time,” which indicates how quickly a medical team is able to restore blood flow in patients who have a heart attack. Door-to-balloon time is counted from the time a patient comes in the door to the point where he or she undergoes balloon angioplasty to open a blocked artery.

Balloon angioplasty is the most effective treatment for opening blocked arteries, restoring blood flow and reducing damage to the heart muscle. Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin excel in door-to-balloon time. While the standard door-to-balloon time among healthcare organizations is 90 minutes (based on The Joint Commission’s Acute Myocardial Infarction Core Measure guidelines), our average door-to-balloon time is well below 90 minutes.

Cardiac Intensive Care Unit

In the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU), cardiovascular, critical care and internal medicine subspecialists provide medical care to heart attack patients and other cardiac patients requiring intense, specialized care. All nurses in the unit are ACLS (advanced cardiac life support) certified and many have earned the CCRN (certified in critical care nursing) designation. The CICU provides care for about 500 patients per year.