New UAMS 'Call' Program Allows for Quicker Heart Attack Treatment

A new system to wirelessly transmit heart monitor data from the ambulance to a cardiologist is now available at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System in Little Rock, the first hospitals in Arkansas to use the technology.
The new system — Cardiac Action Life Link, or Call — could reduce the time to treatment for a patient experiencing a heart attack by getting the data more quickly into the hands of the doctor who can decide the best treatment.
Dr. Ibrahim Fahdi, a cardiologist and an assistant professor of internal medicine in the UAMS College of Medicine and a staff physician with CAVHS, worked with wireless provider Verizon Wireless and Metropolitan Emergency Medical Services to get the technology in place.
"Since irreversible or potentially fatal damage to the heart can occur quickly, the faster we receive the ECG information, the quicker we can mobilize personnel and equipment to start treatment," Fahdi said.
"With its capability of transmitting the electrocardiogram (ECG) directly to a cardiologist, this wireless system has the potential to greatly reduce the time to treatment and save lives," he said.
MEMS ambulances in the Little Rock metropolitan area will be able to transmit ECG recordings to the cardiologist on call and to the emergency department at either UAMS Medical Center or the John L. McClellan Memorial Veterans Hospital.
An ECG records the electric activity of the heart and can be used to identify the signs of a heart attack taking place, UAMS said.
The cardiologist receives the ECG information via a handheld wireless device donated by Verizon Wireless, which also provided transmission equipment and wireless phones for the ambulances.
Previously it was possible to transmit an ECG recording from the ambulance to a station in a hospital's emergency department. Wireless technology and high-speed wireless data networks can now allow transmission of the ECG recordings directly to the cardiologist on call, UAMS said.
UAMS has about 2,430 students and 715 medical residents. It is one of the state's largest public employers with about 9,400 employees.