February is Heart Month

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“About 2.4 million Canadians aged 20 years and older live with ischemic heart disease. Heart disease is also the second leading cause of death in Canada, claiming more than 48,000 lives in 2012” (Gov’t of Canada)

If you have a heart related emergency such as chest pain you should dial 911 for an ambulance. Paramedics will quickly respond, perform advanced assessment, treatment and transport to the hospital. An ambulance is a key factor to any treatment plan for someone who calls 911, since it is the safest and fastest method of transport to hospital in an emergency and paramedics can provide life saving care on route. Did you know that if certain criteria were met, Paramedics would take you to the most appropriate medical facility, which may not be the closest? Certain types of heart attacks meet these criteria and can be diagnosed in your home by Paramedics.

When paramedics arrive one Paramedic leads with numerous questions to investigate your concerns, the other will attach you to the cardiac monitor/defibrillator. Paramedics are the only pre-hospital personnel trained to use this machine to its maximum potential. The paramedics will take your blood pressure, monitor your oxygen levels and check your heart rhythm and then complete a 12-Lead ECG (which is the same heart test they do in the hospital) or a 15 lead ECG, which is a more in depth look at all angles of your heart.

This diagnostic image will provide the Paramedics with vital information as to whether you may be having a heart attack and then, if all of the criteria are met, the Paramedics will initiate administration of medication, perhaps an intravenous, by-pass the closest hospital and take you to the regional cardiac care centre, currently that is Southlake in Newmarket. At Southlake, a procedure called Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI) is done and the coronary arteries are opened back up. Getting a patient who is having a heart attack to a PCI centre is the definitive care that they need, which only Paramedics can provide.

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