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Basic Facts on Treating Heart Attacks: Recommended Care

What is a heart attack?

A heart attack, or acute myocardial infarction (AMI), can occur if the arteries supplying blood to the heart become blocked, and the blood supply is slowed or stopped. The heart can’t get the oxygen and nutrients it needs. The affected heart tissue may die.

Symptoms of a heart attack

Symptoms of a heart attack can include chest pain (crushing, squeezing or burning pain in the center of the chest which may radiate to the arm or jaw), shortness of breath, dizziness, faintness, chills, sweating or nausea. Skin may feel cold or clammy, and patients may appear gray and look ill. Sometimes there are no symptoms.

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What do the measures mean and why are they important?

The scores show how well NJ hospitals are providing care for eligible heart patients. Patients with contraindications, those at higher risk of experiencing complications, to any of the recommended treatments are excluded from the scores for that treatment. Higher percentages indicate better performance. The goal is to reach 100%.

PCI within 90 Minutes

  • THIS SCORE TELLS YOU the percent of heart attack patients who underwent angioplasty, or a Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI), within 90 Minutes after arrival at a hospital.

  • THIS INFORMATION IS IMPORTANT because PCI is a procedure to open the blocked blood vessels, re-establishing the blood supply to the heart muscle. It involves inserting a catheter (a flexible tube) usually through the leg. Increasingly, cardiologists choose to do a PCI instead of prescribing clot-dissolving medication. The earlier PCI is provided, the more effective it is. However, PCI is not available at every general hospital in New Jersey.

    National guidelines recommend that the sooner a patient receives a PCI after the onset of an AMI, the more effective it is, particularly with a patient who has an ST-elevation, which is a type of AMI.

    To find out if a New Jersey hospital is licensed to perform PCI, ask your doctor.

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