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New Walla Walla General Hospital Cardiac Services Make Every Second Count


Valley’s First and Only Interventional Cardiology Program, Including Emergency Angioplasty and Stents, Saves Precious Time in the Treatment of Heart Attacks and Other Cardiac Emergencies

Hearts in Walla Walla now have faster access to life-saving treatments, thanks to new emergency cardiac procedures now being performed at Walla Walla General Hospital. Emergency angioplasty and stent procedures, which previously required all patients to be transported more than 60 minutes to the nearest hospital able to perform these procedures, can now be performed on most patients without leaving the Walla Walla Valley.

According to the American Heart Association, heart attack remains a leading cause of death in the United States. For patients experiencing a type of heart attack called a STEMI–or ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction–quick treatment is vital. The most effective treatment is called Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI) and involves a trained cardiologist inserting a balloon and a stent into the artery to reestablish the flow of blood. Survival decreases with every minute without treatment for patients experiencing a STEMI.

"Outcomes improve significantly when we can diagnose and treat cardiac patients within 90 minutes of the onset of symptoms, and that’s something we’re now better equipped to manage," said Dr. Bradley Titus, WWGH interventional cardiologist and medical director of the hospital’s cardiac program. "The clock begins ticking the moment a patient feels discomfort, and with these new procedures we save precious time and in many cases eliminate the need to transport patients an hour or longer to cardiac facilities."

EMS transport of these patients to hospitals outside our area not only increases the amount of time to treatment, putting patients at risk, it also creates a potential gap in EMS service for our community and increases EMS staffing costs. Now emergent patients who are seen at WWGH are evaluated and treated with advanced lifesaving procedures like angioplasty and stents.

The cardiac team is standing by 24 hours a day Sunday evening through Thursday evening to provide emergency PCI for patients having a heart attack. We have developed coordinated systems with EMS for every day of the week and are working toward a plan for 24/7 emergency PCI.

"Being able to treat STEMIs in Walla Walla is huge not only for our community's health, but for friends, families, and loved ones of hospitalized patients who can visit them more easily," said Dr. Titus, who is also the founder of the specialized Northwest Cardiovascular Institute. "The faster a blocked artery is opened and the heart is receiving blood, the better the long-term outcome for the patient."

Getting to the hospital at the earliest sign of a heart attack is also key to a successful outcome. That means calling 911 at the first sign of chest discomfort; shortness of breath; pain or discomfort in the back, neck, jaw or stomach; nausea; light-headedness; or breaking out in a cold sweat.

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About the Cardiologist
Bradley Titus, MD, FACC, is the founder and managing partner of Northwest Cardiovascular Institute in Portland, Ore., a 16-physician cardiology group. Dr. Titus is board certified in interventional cardiology, cardiovascular disease, and internal medicine. He is a fellow with the American College of Cardiology and principal investigator or co-investigator on nearly 40 scientific research studies. Dr. Titus enjoys cycling, skiing and serving in Christian medical ministries in Guatemala and Rwanda.