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Wheeling Hospital Heart and Vascular Institute Urging Immediate Treatment Despite COVID

December 3, 2020

WHEELING, W.VA. – Wheeling Hospital is joining with the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions to promote SecondsCount, an initiative to encourage patients not to wait when they have symptoms of a heart attack or stroke.

“Time matters when it comes to heart attack and stroke, and waiting to seek treatment is not the right choice,” Dr. Christopher Allen, the hospital’s Chief of Cardiology, said. “We know with the current surge of COVID in our region that people may delay care for these deadly issues, and we’re just reminding them that seconds still count.”

Don’t ignore the signs, including chest pain, discomfort in the arms, neck or jaw, shortness of breath with or without chest pain, nausea or lightheadedness. Heart disease is still the number one killer in the U.S. and is responsible for 1 in 4 deaths. Calling 9-1-1 may save a life, so don’t hesitate if experiencing any of these symptoms.

In light of COVID, the hospital has taken extra precautions for treating cardiac and stroke cases. “We have dedicated one of our cath labs, along with one of our operating room, to better isolate patients from exposure.” Zac Zabiski, RN, Cath Lab manager, said. “Having the ability to separate our resources provides a higher level of safety for our community.

“In addition, our staff is well trained for the situation and wears all the necessary PPE to ensure they, as well as the patient, are protected.”

Luke Burkhart, Wheeling Hospital Stroke Center coordinator, said, "We do understand the public’s hesitancy in seeking emergent medical care given the current state of COVID within our local community. However, those experiencing acute stroke-like symptoms should not delay their efforts in notifying their community’s EMS to be evaluated and potentially treated.”

He said stroke symptoms can include sudden loss of balance/uncoordinated movements, changes in vision, facial asymmetry, sudden unilateral extremity weakness/paralysis, slurred speech and difficulty speaking/expressing self. The time window for intravenous thrombolytic treatment is 4.5 hours from the time of symptom onset.

“Remember, time is brain,” Burkhart said. “Early identification of symptoms and efficient treatment strongly correlates to more optimal long-term outcomes in those experiencing stroke.”

Wheeling Hospital has received the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines®-Stroke Silver Plus Quality Achievement and the Target: Type 2 Diabetes Honor Roll awards. The awards recognize the hospital’s commitment to ensuring stroke patients receive the most appropriate treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines based on the latest scientific evidence.

Earlier this year, Wheeling Hospital received the Mission: Lifeline® Gold Plus Receiving Quality Achievement Award for implementing specific quality improvement measures outlined by the American Heart Association (AHA) for the treatment of patients who suffer severe heart attacks.

Wheeling Hospital earned the award by meeting specific criteria and standards of performance for quick and appropriate treatment through emergency procedures to re-establish blood flow to blocked arteries in heart attack patients coming into the hospital directly or by transfer from another facility

In addition, the hospital is nationally recognized as one of the best in the U.S. by the AHA for its fast and effective treatment of the most deadly type of heart attack, a STEMI (ST Elevated Acute Myocardial Infarction).

Wheeling Hospital also is an AHA-Certified Heart Attack Receiving Center and an Accredited Chest Pain Center with PCI (percutaneous coronary intervention) and Resuscitation.

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Media Contact: Thea Gompers, Director, Marketing/Public Relations
Wheeling Hospital

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