Heart attack self-treatment arouses worldwide interest
Western Australia spans more than 2.5 million square kilometers and is sparsely populated. Health care for local people is a constant challenge here. A 44-year-old man was the only duty worker in the area at Coral Bay's infirmary, 150 kilometers from the nearest hospital. Suddenly the paramedic experienced severe chest pain and dizziness - the signs of a heart attack. With no other medical staff nearby, the man had to act quickly to survive.
The medic carried out an electrocardiogram (ECG) on himself and found a complete heart block. He sent the data to an emergency doctor via the “Emergency Telehealth Service (ETS)”. This service was specially set up for remote emergency wards that have no local specialists. An emergency doctor responded via a video chat and supported the man in taking life-saving measures himself. The medic quickly injected blood thinning and blood clot medication into both arms and connected himself to a defibrillator. Then he took medication for cardiac arrhythmia.
The medication cocktail that the medic injected consisted of aspirin, clopidogrel (a medicine that affects blood clotting), nitroglycerin (to lower blood pressure), heparin to prevent blood clotting, and opiates for pain. In addition, he performed thromolysis with tenecteplase. This is a medical therapy for occlusion of blood vessels. He attached defibrillator pads to the chest and administered adrenaline, atropine and amiodarone for cardiac arrhythmias. Then the blockade finally came to an end. The man saved his life.
To the hospital by plane
Some time later, with the help of the "Royal Flying Doctor Service", the patient was transferred to a cardiology department in Perth, 1000 kilometers away. A stent was inserted there. After further treatment, the man was finally released 48 hours later, where he continued his medical treatment.
High initiative and the video service saved his life
The ETS system was introduced by the West Australian Department of Health in 2012 to improve medical care in isolated areas. This system is intended to facilitate diagnosis and treatment without the need for a specialist physically to be present. It can also be used for training and further education. The introduction of this service has improved the provision and accessibility of health care in this area.
How to recognize a heart attack
"Breast pressure, burning sensation in the neck, left arm or upper abdomen, unexpected sweating, difficulty breathing, weakness and dizziness - anyone who has these symptoms should see a doctor immediately, as it could be a heart attack," explains Dr. Cindy Grines, chair of cardiology at North Shore University Hospital in New York.
The case attracts worldwide interest
Doctor Felicity Lee and her colleagues from Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, who treated the patient, published a report on the case in the New England Journal of Medicine that attracted worldwide attention. Dr. However, Cindy Grines warns of imitation: "Do not try to learn how to treat yourself with a You Tube video," the expert comments on the report. Heart disease is still the leading cause of death and, according to Dr. Grines expert care. Self-treatment of a myocardial infarction cannot be considered medically appropriate if another option is available.
The medic had a lot of experience
"This gentleman used the first aid he had with him and basically treated himself with the same medical strategy that we would use in the hospital," explains Dr. Satjit Bhusri, cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. This is a unique case. Laymen should best leave the treatment of heart attacks to the professionals.
Knowing heart attack symptoms is important to yourself and others
Bhusri emphasizes the importance of getting quick help with all the necessary means in such situations. “It is also important to know the signs and symptoms of a heart attack and to know the basics of life support. Not just for yourself, but also for others, ”continues the expert. (vb)