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Fighting Heart Disease in Mississippi

By Lawayne Childrey | Published 09 Feb 2012 06:57pm | comments

Mississippi takes a big step toward fighting heart disease with a new emergency plan. MPB's Lawayne Childrey reports on the statewide collaborative effort. 

More people die of heart disease in Mississippi than anywhere else in the nation. It's a reality that hit home  three years ago for Willie Brown of Jackson.

"I lost my daughter due to something like this where her heart was weak and then it just shut down. I didn't know it was really that bad."

At least 8 thousand Mississippian's die from heart disease every year.  One of the most deadly types of the disease is called STEM. That's where the coronary artery is completely blocked by a blood clot. Dr. Barry Bertolet, an Interventional treatment cardiologist in Tupelo says A STEM heart attack needs specialized treatment within 90 minutes for the greatest amount of success. That's why he believes the states new coordinated efforts between 19 hospitals and other health systems is vitally important. 

"Because these ambulances when they get to somebody's house they can now diagnose the heart attack at the house. And so  they can alert us back at the hospital so while they're driving the patient on the way they're initiating initial medical therapy for the heart attack and then when we know that person's coming with a heart attack we can bypass emergency rooms and go straight to do what we gotta do to help the patient out from the heart attack."   

The STEM care plan has been proven to save lives in North Carolina. Dr. William Bassett, President  of Mississippian's for Emergency Medical Services expects the same results in Mississippi especially given the amount of coordinated participation.

"Seeing hospital administrators and seeing physician practices put their guard down, drop the swords and the shields and  say let’s make this decision on what's best for the patient and what is the best clinical data available to help us guide us to make that decision. That's been phenomenal." 

Mississippi is the second state in the nation to implement a life saving cardiovascular emergency response plan. Lawayne Childrey, MPB News.

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