In 2011, more than 2,300 city residents died from what the American Heart Association classifies as the most serious kind of heart attack, and now there's a system in the works aimed at bringing that number down. NY1's Erin Billups filed the following report.
Fitz Hosford is standing tall, something the 67-year-old says is a miracle after suffering a massive heart attack just weeks before.
"I had just dropped my wife to work and on my return I started losing my breath and the pain just keep getting larger and larger as though my chest was starting to open up," he recalls.
Hosford admits his smoking likely played a part, but as a seemingly healthy High School soccer coach the heart attack took him by surprise. An artery supplying blood to his heart was blocked.
"He was very lucky because he recognized his symptoms and his daughter called the ambulance immediately," says Brookdale Hospital Cardiology Director Dr. Hal Chadow.
He was also lucky because of a new protocol, put in place this year as part of an FDNY, American Heart Association program and Duke University clinical trial called Mission Lifeline. Its goal is better coordination between first responders and hospitals, directing the most serious heart attack patients to facilities that can perform emergency angioplasties in state-of-the-art facilities like Brookdale Hospital.
Paramedics perform tests while in route, and send the results ahead to Brookdale. A cardiac team was waiting for Hosford when he arrived, bypassing the emergency room.
"He was able to get from the E.R into the cath lab and have flow restored within 22 minutes. That is one of the fastest recorded times on record," Dr. Chadow says.
Doctors took pictures of each vessel supplying blood to Hosford's heart, identified the blockage, and removed the clot.
"With special balloons, we are able to restore flow completely and restore the anatomy of the coronary artery," says Brookdale Hospital Cardiac Cath Lab Assistant Director Dr. Ricardo Castillo.
"If I tried to get anywhere, by car, by...any transportation I would have not have made it. That’s how the seconds played a very important part in my life," Hosford says.
Hosford now has a stent in place and is returning to normal life. Brookdale's cardiac team hopes that with more results like Holsford's the clinical trial will lead to a new standard of care.
"This room is really a life line for this community," Dr. Chadow adds.