From right: Heart Hospital’s Cardiology chairman Dr Abdulrazak A Gehani, Ambulance Service medical director Dr Loua H al-Shaikh, Ambulance Service Ambulance Service PR manager Rashid Andaila and Heart Hospital chief executive officer Dr Lionel Jarvis at the press conference yesterday.
By Noimot Olayiwola/Staff Reporter
The Hamad Medical Corporation’s Ambulance Service has installed a telemetry system in some 60 ambulances and the Lifeflight helicopter to ensure that persons suffering from heart attack get prompt treatment at the Heart Hospital without going through the Emergency room.
Telemetry is the highly-automated communications process by which measurements are made and data collected at remote or inaccessible points and transmitted to receiving equipment for monitoring.
There are plans to make available an enhanced version of the system where the ECG will simultaneously be transmitted to the smartphone of the cardiologist who is on call.
The life-saving system, which was officially launched yesterday, will allow paramedic crews responding to an emergency involving a suspected heart attack, to transmit vital information about
the patient’s condition from the scene.
The telemetry service allows paramedic crews to record and transmit the patient’s electrocardiograph (ECG) from the scene to the clinical team leader in the National Control Centre (NCC).
After reading the ECG, the clinical team leader makes an informed decision as to whether the patient should be transported to the Heart Hospital or to Hamad General Hospital.
“If the patient is being transferred to the Heart Hospital, the ECG is transmitted from the system’s Life Pack 15 machines to the Heart Hospital for the cardiologist to look at before the patient arrives,” Ambulance Service medical director Dr Loua H al-Shaikh explained at a press conference yesterday.
While stressing that time was very crucial when dealing with heart attacks, the official said the telemetry system enabled staff at the Heart Hospital to be prepared with the appropriate intervention required for the patient before his arrival.
“This new equipment will streamline the process of transmitting information about the patient to the doctor who will be receiving the patient at Heart Hospital and ensure more informed clinical decisions can be made in advance and therefore treatment for the patient can begin sooner,” he said.
Heart Hospital’s Cardiology chairman Dr Abdulrazak A Gehani said: “Heart attack is a top killer worldwide including in Qatar.”
He explained that the telemetry system would not only speed up the diagnosis of the patient but also would allow cardiologists to be prepared as they received a full picture of the patient’s condition before his arrival.
“Apart from transmitting the ECG, the system sends across other important data such as blood pressure, heart rhythm and rate, amount of oxygen in blood and other vital information.”
Gehani said that a patient’s survival after an heart attack was best when intervention was carried out within the first two hours of arriving in the hospital.
“The first target internationally is to make sure that patient gets to the hospital within 90 minutes but here in Qatar we have been receiving heart attack patients in the cardiac catheterisation (a way to find out detailed information about the heart and coronary arteries) laboratory within 82 minutes and our aim is to reduce this further to 60 minutes in order to save more lives,” he stated.
Both al-Shaikh and Gehani emphasised the importance of time and the need for patients to seek medical help immediately they suspect an heart attack.
“Many patients don’t realise they have heart attack when they begin to have chest pains for an unknown reason, begin to sweat profusely and feel very tired…that is the time they should dial 999 and get help from the ambulance,” Gehani said.
According to al-Shaikh, the Ambulance Service receives an increased number of calls about cardiac arrest in the morning.
“We see a spike in the number of calls for cardiac arrest most mornings because many people tend to ignore their pain when it started at night and delay calling the hospital until morning; this is not right, we want people to call us immediately even if their pain is not heart related, because any delay in getting medical help could be dangerous.”
He added that it was always safe for patients to call the ambulance rather than choose to drive themselves to the hospital.“We want people to realise that the Ambulance Service is happy to bring the hospital to people and also transport them to the hospital building rather than them driving down there themselves as a cardiac arrest could occur while on the way and such patients can only be resuscitated in an ambulance and not at the back seat of their cars.”
Dr Gehani said that last year up to 3,000 procedures comprising different types of heart diseases were done in the hospital’s cath lab while a total of 1,400 patients suffering from coronary artery diseases were seen at the hospital.