NEW INITIATIVE ENABLES QUICKER ACCESS TO LIFE SAVING TREATMENT

NGAIRE JONES |

Every day in New Zealand, eight people will suffer the most life-threatening form of heart attack, with only three of those surviving to immediate treatment.

St John, in collaboration with the Cardiac Network and Ministry of Health, plans to increase the chance of survival with the launch of a new STEMI pathway throughout the Whanganui and MidCentral DHBs.

A STEMI (ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction) occurs when there is a full blockage of one of the heart’s major arteries.

The sooner blood flow is restored to the heart, the lower the risk of death and the less damage to the heart muscle, reducing the risk of heart failure and other complications.  

New Zealand has nine hospitals able to treat STEMI patients effectively, all within urban areas, and covering only 20% of the geographical area, meaning as few as 30% of New Zealand’s population can reach effective treatment within the recommended 90-minute window.

The pathway enables paramedics to give a clot busting drug to patients experiencing a STEMI heart attack, and then transport those patients to the most appropriate hospital, reducing the time it takes to receive lifesaving therapy.

Around 350 patients each year could benefit from this pathway, resulting in long-term survival and a reduced burden on the New Zealand health system, bringing New Zealand in line with other countries with advanced health systems.

St John Medical Director Tony Smith says this is a great step forward for New Zealand.

“I’m proud of the way all the clinicians have worked together collaboratively, to break down barriers to improving patient care. This is going to directly save lives and ensure that more New Zealanders will return home to their families”.

MidCentral DHB General Manager, Strategy, Planning and Performance, Craig Johnston said the rollout of the STEMI pathway was a positive result for patients.

“The ability to have STEMI patients assessed in the community by St John paramedics will decrease transfer waiting times to Wellington Hospital, preserve cardiac function and improve outcomes for patients across the region.”

This pathway is an example of health services standing shoulder to shoulder to improve access to emergency healthcare for those with the greatest need, particularly those living in rural and remote areas.

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