Heart diseases are the number one killer in India. A heart attack is caused when a clot completely blocks a blood vessel in the heart.
Worldwide, people fail to identify heart attack symptoms on time or seek appropriate medical help.
Post a heart attack, the heart muscle starts to die within 60-90 minutes after it stops getting blood and within six hours, almost all the affected parts of the heart could be irreversibly damaged.
As a consequence of damaged heart muscles, either the heart can go into a sudden complete standstill, or into abnormal heart rhythms called ‘ventricular tachycardia’ and ‘ventricular fibrillation’ where the heart muscles contract at a rapid rate, without any active pumping of blood from the heart – called as a cardiac arrest. A person with a cardiac arrest will be unresponsive, will not be breathing and will not have a pulse.
Cardiac arrest occurs suddenly, disrupting the blood flow to the brain and other parts of the body. Lack of oxygen causes irreversible damage to vital organs and within minutes, patients die.
Most patients don’t get another chance if heart attack is not treated in time.
The first hour of definitive medical care is called the ‘golden hour’. Nearly 47 per cent of deaths occur due to cardiac arrests during this period, even before an individual reaches the hospital. It is a window of opportunity to the patients, their families and doctors to take appropriate and quick actions, thereby impacting a patient’s survival and quality of life following a heart attack.
Reaching a hospital, which has an in-house cardiac cath lab, within this golden hour period, provides emergency physicians and cardiologists ample time to perform ECGs, appropriate diagnostic tests and scans on the patient to ascertain the occurrence of heart attack and the extent of damage and take necessary steps to reinstate proper blood flow to the heart immediately.
A person who reaches the hospital and gets treated within this period can expect near-complete recovery.
Hence, ‘golden hour’ becomes ‘the game-changing event’ in saving the life of the patient.