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Chain of Survival Saves Lives

CPR is the first step in the “chain of survival” when someone suffers a cardiac arrest


By Jessica Sutherland, MD

When it comes to any type of cardiac arrest, early intervention and treatment is critical. If CPR is not started within four minutes, the brain can suffer permanent damage. CPR is not difficult to learn, and the American Heart Association has a video on their website to show how hands-only CPR can keep oxygen pumping to the brain until medical help arrives.

An efficient "chain or survival" ensures the best patient outcomes

The chain of survival is a term for the interconnected community and emergency medical response that starts with CPR and includes defibrillation with an AED, emergency medical treatment/transport, and finally cardiac care in the hospital. Exeter Hospital, Core Cardiology, and the community fire departments’ EMS providers work together to keep this chain as efficient as possible to ensure the best outcome for our patients.

Exeter Hospital has a strong relationship with EMS providers at the fire departments in surrounding communities, as well as a staff of paramedics who can meet the local EMS providers at the scene for treatment there and in the ambulance if 911 is called. Exeter Hospital’s Emergency Department also offers regular education sessions for EMS providers, as well as providing follow up feedback on patients that those teams bring in to the hospital.

Once the patient arrives at Exeter Hospital’s Emergency Department, a smooth and efficient process begins to get them into the Cardiac Cath Lab for treatment. The time from arrival at the ED to the moment of treatment of the heart is called “door to balloon” time – Exeter Hospital has a long history of keeping this time below the national average. The current average door to balloon time at Exeter Hospital is 52 minutes, whereas like-size hospitals with a similar volume of patients have an average of 65 minutes.

So what can you do to keep your heart healthy and avoid heart problems?

First, keep up to date with your annual exams and screenings such as blood pressure and cholesterol to detect early warning signs. Second, maintain a heart healthy lifestyle. This includes healthy eating, regular exercise, and quitting if you smoke or vape.

Above all, be aware of your body and pay attention to symptoms, because not all heart attacks have the classic symptoms of chest and right arm pain. Symptoms may include chest discomfort, or a sensation of pressure; pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck or jaw; shortness of breath, a cold sweat and/or nausea. Don’t hesitate to call your doctor is something doesn’t feel right.
Jessica Sutherland, MD is a cardiologist with Core Cardiology in Exeter. She is board certified in Nuclear Cardiology, Interventional Cardiology and Cardiovascular Disease.

Exeter Hospital has received the American College of Cardiology’s Cardiac Cath Lab Accreditation with PCI; American Heart Association’s Gold Plus Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Quality Achievement Award; and Acute Stroke Ready certification through DNV GL Healthcare.