Barbara McDermott, Director of the Juckett Family Cardiac Cath Lab on Heart Attack and GFH Services

Every 40 seconds someone in the United States suffers from a heart attack.

About one in five of all heart attacks are silent, meaning the damage is done but you may not even be aware that you’ve had a heart attack. The majority of people who have a heart attack do experience symptoms such as pain in their chest that comes on with exercise or activity, pain that radiates down their arm, nausea, vomiting or dizziness. Women tend to present with slightly different symptoms that include back pain, neck pain and fatigue. Knowing these facts and symptoms and paying close attention to your body and how you’re feeling, is incredibly important.

As a critical care nurse for more than three decades, I have cared for many patients suffering from a heart attack or other cardiac emergency. More than 20 years ago, Glens Falls Hospital opened the cardiac catherization lab. I had the unbelievable opportunity to be one of the first nurses to work on the unit. To this day, cardiac care is my passion and I am honored to be part of Glens Falls Hospital’s cardiac catheterization lab and work alongside an interdisciplinary team of specialized physicians, registered clinical nurses, registered radiology technologists, and cardiovascular technologists.

One of the emergency interventions performed at the cath lab is a Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI), a non-surgical procedure that improves blood flow to your heart. Before hospitals began performing PCIs, patients who suffered a heart attack were given medications that dissolve clots which typically caused severe side effects. Using the PCI method, we are able to restore blood flow to the heart quickly and have even reduced the average length of stay for patients who have suffered a heart attack from 5-7 days to three days.

Over the years, advancements in medicine and science have given us the tools and medications needed to provide better, more effective care for patients. At Glens Falls Hospital, the teamwork, relentless drive to do right by our patients and the care coordination displayed by the cardiac care team has allowed us to do even more for the patients we serve. That work is evident in our door-to-intervention time, meaning the amount of time that elapses between when someone presents at the Emergency Department with a heart attack and when the appropriate intervention is performed. The national standard door-to-intervention is 90 minutes or less. Glens Falls Hospital’s door-to-intervention time is about 61 minutes, nearly 30 minutes better than the national standard.

That is a testament to the relationships we have built and the commitment of our team. We have strong relationships with the Emergency Department, EMS and cardiologists in our area and the interdisciplinary cardiac care and catherization lab team are all in and 110% committed to providing the best possible care and outcomes for our patients. This team’s mindset and approach makes all the difference when you’re providing potentially life-saving care for someone.

Glens Falls Hospital’s cath lab team are some of the most dedicated professionals that I have had the privilege to work alongside in my career. There is nothing that we won’t do for our patients, and we are always striving to be better for the people we serve.