Each year Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Heart Hospital performs more than 1,000 acute coronary surgeries on patients with a ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI), commonly known as a heart attack. Worldwide, the condition is a leading cause of death and Heart Hospital’s treatment of these patients exceeds international benchmarks.
A STEMI is a serious type of heart attack during which one of the heart’s major arteries is blocked. The international ‘door to balloon’ benchmark (the time that elapses from the patient’s arrival time at the hospital to the time the blocked artery is opened) is 90 minutes; at Heart Hospital, it is around 60 minutes.
Dr Abdulrahman Arabi
“What differentiates Heart Hospital from other hospitals meeting the international benchmark is the fact that we are able to achieve the best international standards despite having very high numbers of patients compared to other cardiology hospitals. Our high-quality care is achieved not only because we have a state-of-the-art facility but more importantly because we have highly trained and experienced staff,” says Dr Abdulrahman Arabi, deputy chair of cardiology for clinical affairs and director of the Cardiac Catheterisation laboratory at Heart Hospital.
“ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction is the most serious of all types of acute coronary problems. Once a case is suspected, the ambulance paramedics will obtain the patient’s electrocardiogram while still in their home or workplace, or wherever the incident occurred. The ECG is then wire-transferred immediately to Heart Hospital and if the case is confirmed, the Cath Lab will be informed and the team will be ready to perform angioplasty immediately. This life-saving procedure is done within an average time of 60 minutes from arrival,” says Dr Arabi.
The priority in treating a STEMI heart attack is to open the artery quickly, saving as much heart muscle as possible. Dr Arabi says an angioplasty, which involves inserting a balloon-tipped catheter to unclog the vessel, is performed to restore blood flow through the artery.
Coronary artery disease is a type of cardiovascular disease which includes conditions that affect the structures or function of the heart. It remains the most prevalent form of heart disease in Qatar. More than 90% of the 4,000 heart-related procedures performed at Heart Hospital’s Cath Lab each year are related to coronary artery disease.
The most common symptom of coronary artery disease in men is chest pain, but pain or pressure can also be felt in the shoulder, arms, back, neck, and jaw. Symptoms in women are often more subtle and can include nausea, sweating, fatigue, and shortness of breath, in addition to the more typical pressure-like chest pain. Dr Arabi says coronary artery disease is a chronic illness which manifests acutely with a heart attack.