New Program Expands Hospital’s Cardiac Services to Better Serve the Community  

Atlantic Health System’s Newton Medical Center today announced the launch of its percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) program in its newly enhanced cardiac catheterization lab located in the Charles L. Tice Heart Center. This new service will allow patients to be treated on-site, thus leading to better patient outcomes. The Heart Center is also seamlessly connected to Atlantic Health System’s Morristown Medical Center which is nationally recognized by U.S. News & World Report for cardiology and heart surgery. 

An “ST” elevated myocardial infarction, also known as a STEMI heart attack, occurs when a major artery to the heart is completely blocked. When a PCI is performed within 90 minutes of arrival to the hospital, STEMI patients see a significant reduction in heart damage. Time translates into muscle loss, so patients suffering a STEMI are taken to the closest hospital that can treat this type of heart attack.

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“As a community hospital, we continue to invest in services and technology that improve lifesaving patient care close to home,” said Bob Adams, President, Newton Medical Center. “Launching the PCI program at Newton Medical Center further enhances our dedication to delivering exceptional cardiac services to the communities of Sussex County.”

EMS also plays an important role in the care delivered to STEMI patients, and Newton Medical Center has continued to enrich its relationship with local EMS agencies. Situated in a primarily rural and suburban region, pre-activation of the Cath Lab by EMS in the field will dramatically reduce door to balloon times – the time it takes the physician to open the artery –  by enabling the Cath Lab to prepare for the patient while they are still en-route to the hospital. As a result, STEMI patients will see quicker catheterization times, therefore saving precious heart muscle and improving patient outcomes.

“The ability to provide primary PCI which involves the placement of a small stent to open a blocked coronary artery in patients suffering from an acute heart attack is a big step in the evolution of our cardiovascular service line at Newton Medical Center,” said Gerald Cioce, MD, cardiac cath lab director, Newton Medical Center. “This capability allows us to provide lifesaving treatments for our local community without delay or need for transport to another facility. I am proud of what we have accomplished and pleased to have the opportunity to offer patients this treatment and the associated benefits it brings.”

Within the past 10 years, the Heart Center has grown from a small diagnostic lab into a full-service cardiac catheterization and peripheral vascular program. To assist Newton Medical Center in expanding its cardiology services and saving more lives, the Newton Medical Center Foundation embarked on a $1.4 million-dollar project earlier this year to fund a new Cardiac Cath Lab imaging system. This new imaging system offers a comprehensive suite of functionality customized for a wide range of procedures. With the flat-panel digital detector, it offers excellent visualization of the heart and its chambers. The system is designed from the ground up to provide the image clarity needed to support well-informed decisions.

Catch the signs early
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds in the United States. Every year, about 805,000 Americans have a heart attack. Of these:

  • 605,000 are a first heart attack
  • 200,000 happen to people who have already had a heart attack
  • About one in five heart attacks are silent – the damage is done, but the person is not aware of it

Don’t wait to get help if you experience any of these heart attack warning signs. Some heart attacks are sudden and intense. But most start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Pay attention to your body and call 911 if you experience:

  • Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes – or it may go away and then return. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath. This can occur with or without chest discomfort.
  • Other signs. Other possible signs include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

Learn the signs, but also remember, even if you’re not sure it’s a heart attack, you should still have it checked out. Fast action saves lives, maybe your own. Remember, don’t drive yourself to the hospital if you experience any of these warning signs; call 911 immediately.

To learn more about heart care at Atlantic Health System, visit www.atlantichealth.org/heartcare.