Northern California Medical Associates Leads Lifesaving STEMI Program

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Northern California Medical Associates’ ( Dr. Patrick S. Coleman directs the Coastal Valley STEMI Program, a two-countywide effort to expedite the treatment protocol of STEMI heart attack victims for hospitals and emergency medical service (EMS) teams throughout Sonoma and Mendocino Counties.

Dr. Patrick Coleman specializes in cardiovascular and peripheral vascular diseases, endovascular medicine, interventional and nuclear cardiology, and he has been in practice for over 20 years.

Dr. Patrick S. Coleman, Director of the Coastal Valley STEMI Program

Today, STEMI care in Sonoma County is as good as anywhere in the country, with credit due to Dr. Coleman’s two-countywide STEMI Program.

In the event of a heart attack, even the smallest increment of time can drastically--often tragically--change a patient’s prognosis. One common and severe type of heart attack, known as an ST segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), requires rapid intervention for the victim to have the best chance of survival. Dr. Coleman, MD, FACC, understands the vital importance of providing precise, unerring STEMI care under the pressure of time.

In light of new information regarding STEMI care and the variability of STEMI care in the area, Dr. Coleman and colleagues, including fellow NCMA Cardiologist, Dr. Thomas E. Dunlap, joined with EMS to start the Coastal Valley STEMI Program. When a STEMI occurs, the coronary artery is completely occluded by a blood clot. The clogged artery can no longer supply blood and oxygen to the heart muscle, and virtually all the heart muscle reliant on the affected artery starts to die. The acceptable “door-to-device” time for a STEMI patient is 90 minutes, meaning that the clock starts ticking the moment the patient arrives at the hospital, and doesn’t stop until the lifesaving catheterization device is implanted into the heart in order to open the clogged artery. Today, STEMI care in Sonoma County is as good as anywhere in the country, with credit due to Dr. Coleman’s two-countywide STEMI Program.

Dr. Coleman asserts, “In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s cardiologists began treating heart attack patients with emergent intervention as opposed to just giving the patient drugs that would open up the clogged artery. This new treatment strategy yields remarkable benefits for patient prognoses. The heart continues to suffer damage as long as the arterial occlusion remains. Catheterization and surgical procedures free up blockage much faster and more reliably than drug treatments.”

“The urgency of any heart attack situation requires that all caregivers involved--the paramedics, firemen, ER triage nurses, ER physicians, and cardiologists--perform precise tasks with commanding efficiency and expertise,” he continues. “It is our job as cardiologists to educate everyone involved about their essential roles in saving heart attack patients’ lives. We know what needs to happen for STEMI patients to have a good chance of survival, and the process happens to be complicated. Only through unified, countywide planning and optimal utilization of local emergency cardiac facilities can we give patients their best odds.”

Heart attacks remain the leading cause of death in the United States. Cardiologists and EMS involved in the Coastal Valley STEMI Program meet regularly to further fine-tune STEMI care protocol. Thanks to Dr. Coleman’s STEMI Program, Sonoma and Mendocino Counties are much safer places.

Since 1975, NCMA Cardiology has offered comprehensive, innovative, and cost-effective health care to its patients. Dr. Coleman’s specialties include cardiovascular and peripheral vascular diseases, endovascular medicine, and interventional and nuclear cardiology. He has been in practice for over 20 years. Click here to read full article.

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Wendy LaBranche
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