Heart attack victim cycles for new drug

A FACTORY worker who became one of the first people in the county to receive new clot-busting heart drugs has today thanked quick-thinking paramedics for saving his life.

A FACTORY worker who became one of the first people in the county to receive new clot-busting heart drugs has today thanked quick-thinking paramedics for saving his life.

Robert Skinner, 44, received the new drugs when he visited his doctors with what he thought was severe heartburn.

When he started suffering chest pains he decided to cycle round the corner to the doctor's surgery, not realising he was in fact suffering a heart attack.

He said: "I thought the fresh air would do me good so I biked down, but I had some chest pain on the way and in the waiting room."

Paramedic Jaime Balls, who was based at the surgery, immediately noticed the severity of the problem, attached an ECG monitor to Mr Skinner and called for an ambulance.

She said: "We hooked him up and there it was - a huge heart attack."

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Ms Balls is one of nearly 250 paramedics in East Anglia qualified to administer thrombolysis, but had yet to carry out the procedure on a patient.

The thrombolysis treatment dissolves blood clots and is designed to cut heart attack deaths. To be most effective, the drug needs to be given within one hour of the patient calling for help - the "call-to-needle" time.

Ms Balls said: "I transmitted the ECG to the hospital and our chief executive Dr Carney, and he gave me the go ahead to give the drug.

"We were already on our way to hospital, so we stopped the ambulance and gave the drugs by the side of the road."

Mr Skinner, of Mayflower Avenue, Saxmundham, said: "Strangely I felt quite relieved as soon as I knew what was the matter - I was so relaxed it was silly really.

"I couldn't believe how the trace went back to normal on the ECG after the drug was given.

"I was given the drug well within an hour of going to the doctor and I think it's brilliant they are bringing these things out into the community."

Traditionally reaching the one hour call-to-needle target has been a problem in rural areas such as East Anglia.

The travelling time taken in reaching hospitals from rural areas and then preparing the patient and administering the drugs was regularly in excess of one hour.

But equipping paramedics with new telemetry technology, which enables paramedics to transmit patients' electro-cardiogram (ECG) readings via mobile phones to ambulance clinicians and the hospital's coronary care unit, has cut the time considerably.

Do you have any stories of amazing work by the region's paramedics? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

A heart attack occurs when the blood supply to part of the heart muscle itself - the myocardium - is severely reduced or stopped.

The medical term for heart attack is myocardial infarction.

The reduction or stoppage happens when one or more of the coronary arteries supplying blood to the heart muscle is blocked. This is usually caused by the build up of plaque (deposits of fat-like substances), a process called atherosclerosis.

The plaque can eventually burst, tear or rupture, creating a "snag" where a blood clot forms and blocks the artery. This leads to a heart attack.

If the blood supply is cut off for more than a few minutes, muscle cells suffer permanent injury and die. This can kill or disable someone, depending on how much heart muscle is damaged.

Thrombolysis is the process of giving a drug which dissolves the blood clot and enables the flow of blood around the heart to resume.

The earlier the blood clot is dissolved the greater chance the patient has of making a full recovery.

The average time taken to administer pre-hospital thrombolysis in East Anglia is 52 minutes, compared with one hour and 22 minutes if patients have to wait until they are in hospital.

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