Level One Heart Attack Program

Heart Attack Information

This year an estimated 600,000 people will experience a new heart attack and another 320,000 will suffer a recurrent heart attack. That's the equivalent to the population of Indianapolis.

Unfortunately, less than one in four hospitals in America has the necessary equipment or specially trained staff to perform a percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), the preferred heart attack treatment.

Indiana University Health North Hospital's Level One Heart Attack Program bridges this gap by coordinating with referring centers across Central Indiana to transport heart attack patients to IU Health North Hospital, where the specialized procedure can be performed.

Why Fast Treatment Is Important

The longer a heart attack goes untreated, the more damage occurs to the heart. Research shows that opening a blocked artery within 90 minutes of diagnosis provides the best chance for recovery.

Coordinating Efforts

The Level One Heart Attack Program requires a high degree of coordination that starts with personnel who understand the need for a fast response and who can begin immediate medical treatment when the emergency department physician diagnoses a heart attack.

As the patient is being stabilized and prepared for the transfer by the referring center, the Level One staff coordinates air or ground transport to IU Health North Hospital. They also coordinate IU Health North Hospital-based physicians, nurses, chaplains, admissions and security officers to ensure there are no delays.

Once at IU Health North Hospital, a specialized team of physicians, nurses and technicians work to open the heart artery.

About the Treatment

For most patients, the preferred treatment to open blocked heart arteries is done through a procedure called percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). This is also known as coronary angioplasty or coronary stenting and is performed in a specialized cardiac laboratory.

A PCI is performed by inserting a long, thin tube (catheter) with a small balloon on its tip into the affected artery. When the balloon is inflated, it presses the plaque against the artery wall and allows blood to flow more freely. Stents, which are small, mesh tubes, may also be used in conjunction with the balloon to keep the arteries open.