Heart & Vascular

Treating Heart Attacks

Faster Treatment Offers Better Outcomes

A heart attack, also known as a myocardial infarction, happens when there is blocked blood flow in the heart—usually caused by a blood clot that forms within an area that has a buildup of plaque. If blood and oxygen is cut off for a long time, the muscle cells of the heart get damaged and die.

When treating a heart attack, time is muscle.

The earlier you treat the heart attack, the less damage there is. Spectrum Health is ranked among the top hospitals in the nation in speed to successfully treating heart attacks. We care for more acute heart attack patients than anyone else in the state of Michigan. And because we see so many patients, we are able to offer the latest technology and the most experience in the area.

Restoring Blood Flow

Our first goal in treating a heart attack is to remove the blood clot and restore blood flow. Clot-busting medicines can be used, as well as a procedure known as percutaneous coronary intervention (or coronary angioplasty). Angioplasty is a nonsurgical procedure in which a thin, flexible tube with a balloon at the end is threaded through blood vessels to the site of the clot. When the balloon is inflated, it compresses the plaque and creates room for the blood to flow.

Spectrum Health has received Accreditation for Cardiovascular Excellence (ACE) for Percutaneous Coronary Intervention, a recognition based on our exemplary program and quality outcomes.

Quite often, a small mesh tube called a stent may be placed in the artery, which helps keep the artery from narrowing or closing again. Some stents, called drug-eluting stents, are coated with medication to further prevent the vessel from closing.

Advanced Heart Attack Care

In a small percentage of patients, the heart can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs, causing damage to the brain and organs. Cardiogenic shock can occur, which is fatal if not treated right away. Spectrum Health has developed a Cardiogenic Shock Team, which brings together surgeons and other specialists to quickly respond to patients, improving their chances of recovery.

We also offer circulatory support devices. These devices help pump blood and give the heart a chance to recover.

Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) also may be used to treat a heart attack. During CABG, a surgeon removes a healthy artery or vein from your body. The artery or vein is then connected, or grafted, so that it goes around the blocked portion of the artery—thereby creating a new route for blood to flow.

When Symptoms Strike, Ask for the Chest Pain Center at Meijer Heart Center

When patients arrive at the Wege Chest Pain Center at Meijer Heart Center, we have a coordinated system of care that delivers treatment quickly and correctly. On average, we are one of the fastest hospitals in the nation in “time to treatment” measures. Other places can do stents and angioplasties, but they can do little else. Everything you need or might need is here, coupled with high volume, lots of experience, multidisciplinary care, rapid deployment and new, innovative technologies.

What we have that differentiates us:

  • A team that provides rapid treatment of STEMI (ST-elevation myocardial infarction, the deadliest kind of heart attack)
  • We treat about 350 STEMIs per year, which is vastly greater than area hospitals and the highest volume in the state of Michigan. Patients do better in places where there is higher volume/more experience.
  • Breadth of service for patients with complex illnesses 
  • Rapid access to a wide variety of specialists
  • Access to advanced and rapid treatment for those in cardiogenic shock
  • We have greater variety of mechanical devices and therapies to support your heart. 
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