The Intermountain Heart Institute is setting the standard for the nation with response times for heart attack patients. Patients with STEMIs—short for ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction—who are suffering from a major blockage in one of their heart arteries, account for a third of all heart attack patients and require a rapid response to open their arterial blockages and save heart muscle. The response process starts with diagnosing the problem and ends with placing a balloon to open the blocked artery. For the past two years, the Heart Institute has achieved perfect scores in keeping response times low for all Intermountain Medical Center patients and all patients transferred from Alta View, LDS, Park City, and Riverton hospitals.

Time is heart muscle. “The sooner you open up that totally blocked artery, the more heart muscle you can save, and as a result, the lower the mortality and the lower the incidence of heart failure and other complications,” said Don Lappé, MD, who chairs the Cardiovascular Department.

The expectation for heart centers throughout the nation is that response times—from the moment a STEMI patient enters the hospital doors to the time the balloon is placed—should be less than 90 minutes. While most major heart centers are keeping door-to-balloon times under 90 minutes for non-transferring patients, what sets the Intermountain Heart Institute apart is the fact we’ve not only achieved perfect scores for the STEMI patients who arrive at Intermountain Medical Center but have also kept response times low for patients transferred from the four surrounding Intermountain hospitals.

The Intermountain Heart Institute’s program also helps STEMI patients enjoy better health after their heart attacks. The Institute is recognized by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for having the lowest 30-day readmission rate among heart attack patients in the country, and the Institute's heart attack mortality rates and care expenses are much lower than the national average.

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