Heart Attack

“Door to Balloon Time”

A heart attack occurs when the flow of blood to the heart muscle becomes blocked and the heart muscle is starved for oxygen. Without proper blood flow heart muscle begins to die. Acting fast at the first sign of heart attack symptoms can save your life and limit damage to your heart. Treatment works best when given shortly after symptoms occur.  A device called a balloon is used to open the blockage. The national goal is to open the blockage and restore blood flow within 90 minutes.  The JFK goal is to open the blockage and restore blood flow within 60 minutes.

“Door to Balloon Time” measures the time from when a patient arrives in the emergency room to the time the blockage is opened and blood flow is restored. 

“First Medical Contact to Balloon Time” measures the time it takes from the paramedic first contact with the patient at the scene to the time the blockage is opened and blood flow is restored. 

What are we measuring?

We measure “Door to Balloon Time” and “First Medical Contact to Balloon Time”.  

Since 2013 we have been measuring the median Door to Balloon Time.  This measurement allows us to monitor progress with the JFK goal of 60 minutes. 


Our JFK goal of 60 minutes is well below the national goal of 90 minutes.  We are pleased that we have successfully reduced our median Door to Balloon time to less than 60 minutes for nearly every quarter since 2013.  We continue to monitor this to keep focus on the goal Door to Balloon time of 60 minutes or less for every patient we treat.

What are we measuring?

To further reduce the overall time to opening up a blocked artery we are working to decrease the time from first patient contact with paramedics to balloon time. In 2014 we began measuring the First Medical Contact to Balloon time. This is the time from paramedic arrival at the scene to the actual opening up the blocked artery with the balloon.  The graph below displays the median time for the First Medical Contact to Balloon time by quarters.  The National goal for this measure is within 90 minutes. 


What is our performance telling us?

It is our goal to restore blood flow to every patient within 90 minutes of First Medical Contact (contact with paramedics). We have processes in place to decrease the time it takes the JFK Medical Center emergency response team to open the patients’ blockage and restore blood flow to the heart.  For example, the hospital provides paramedics with portable electrocardiogram (EKG) machines.  An EKG can determine if you are having a heart attack.  When someone calls for an ambulance, paramedics can perform an EKG as soon as they reach the patient. This allows the hospital team to diagnose and prepare for the patient while the patient is on the way to the hospital.  When a heart attack is diagnosed the paramedics are able to draw blood work and start medications that previously were given in the Emergency Room.  These are an important time saving measures.

What can you do to decrease the Door to Balloon time for you or your loved one?

It's important to know the symptoms of a heart attack and call 9-1-1 if someone is having them. Those symptoms include:

  • Chest discomfort -- pressure, squeezing, or pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Discomfort in the upper body -- arms, shoulder, neck, back
  • Nausea, vomiting, dizziness, lightheadedness, sweating

The sooner the person gets to the emergency room, the better the chance of survival. Prompt medical treatment reduces the amount of heart damage.

Do not drive yourself to the hospital. When the paramedics arrive they will determine if you are having a heart attack and will begin your treatment at the scene.  In addition, the medical team will prepare for your care even before you each the hospital. Beginning treatment at the scene is a time saving measure. 

Please visit the following links for more information on Heart Health and Heart Attacks.