Baylor Scott & White Medical Center-Temple was awarded a 2019 Quality Achievement Award Gold Plus from the American Heart Association as a Mission: Lifeline–STEMI Receiving Center.

Mission: LifeLine is an evidence-based treatment program for a particular type of heart attack, one in which a major artery in the heart is blocked.

Baylor Scott & White was one of the first hospitals in Texas to adopt the American Heart Association’s STEMI treatment guidelines.

The American Heart Association programs looks at the metrics that measure activities related to heart attacks — time to treatment, time to first EKG, time to get the infarct-related artery open, the rapidity at which actions are taken, and the guidelines being followed, such as the patient getting an aspirin when they are supposed to and do they get a beta blocker when they are supposed to, etc., said Jerry Caldwell, chest pain center coordinator at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center-Temple.

“We’ve been doing this well for a number of years and the American Heart Association recognizes that,” he said. “Plus, you don’t turn down awards when you get one.”

The American Heart Association was one of the first supporters of the idea of having quality improvement projects, and heart attacks always have been a focus of the organization, said Dr. David Gantt, Baylor Scott & White cardiologist.

The first meeting to gauge the interest of Texas medical centers in developing the Mission: LifeLine quality improvement program was held at the Austin airport, he said.

“It’s been a good project,” Gantt said.

The state has mapped out the regions of Texas and the medical centers in those areas that perform Percutaneous Coronary Intervention — the placement of stents to open up blocked blood vessels in the heart.

The patient who has had a heart attack as a result of blocked arteries is sent to the closest hospital that can place stents as long as it’s no further than 90 minutes away from the patient’s initial location. Those patients further out are treated with medications first and then transported, he said.

“We continue to feel like the earlier you can get to an artery that’s closed off and is causing a heart attack, the better the chance the patient has for survival,” Gantt said.