Total blockage in an artery causes an acute heart attack emergency called ST elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI). Because the lack of blood flow kills heart muscle, leaving permanent damage, successful treatment is measured in minutes. According to national guidelines, the time from when a patient arrives at the hospital to the moment blood flow is reestablished in the cardiac catheterization lab should be 90 minutes or less.
“Time is muscle in this kind of heart attack, and Sutter Delta Medical Center has been averaging 50 to 60 minutes to treatment,” explains Vipul Gupta, M.D., MPH, medical director of cardiovascular services for the Sutter East Bay Medical Group. “Our team has become so well synchronized that we recently had a case under 30 minutes.”
Our STEMI program is a hidden gem saving lives every day.
Dr. Gupta joined Sutter Delta five years ago from the University of California, San Francisco, where his interventional cardiology fellowship including training in STEMI care. He brought his learnings to Sutter Delta and built the specialized team and workflow that are dramatically changing the prognosis for STEMI patients in eastern Contra Costa County. This area had been underserved, but now when patients arrive at Sutter Delta, one of the five interventional cardiologists and their team rush them directly into the catheterization lab.
“Having a team of nurses, cath lab technicians and doctors in place to follow a standard operating process keeps our work well choreographed and effective,” Dr. Gupta says. “We are the only STEMI center from Concord to Stockton, providing vital services for these so patients don’t need to travel great distances for care.”
However, because eastern Contra Costa County’s population nearly tripled in the 10 years since the catheterization lab opened, the lab has become extremely busy. Sutter Delta handles between 90 and 120 STEMI cases each year, similar to John Muir Health’s Concord Medical Center, the next closest STEMI site, which has two cath labs.
On top of heavy volume, Dr. Gupta is seeing many STEMI patients in their 40s versus the more typical age range of 50 and older. “This is likely due to lifestyle and eating habits causing multiple diseases in younger people that impact cardiovascular health,” Dr. Gupta says. “In serving a diverse population with conditions that can lead to heart disease, we are reaching our case capacity, so we hope to secure funding to add a second cath lab.”
Sutter Delta’s existing lab was installed with the help of donors who answered the call to bring this outstanding program to the area. Dr. Gupta hopes the community will extend its generosity once again. “Our STEMI program is a hidden gem saving lives every day,” he says. “We are help us to serve this community.”
To support an additional catheterization lab at Sutter Delta, please contact Jody Policar at firstname.lastname@example.org.