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Essentia Health earns accreditation for cardiac care

Essentia Health's Heart & Vascular Center receives prestigious, rare honor

The Heart & Vascular Center at Essentia Health-St. Mary's Medical Center in Duluth has received one of the highest honors that can be awarded — Chest Pain Center with Primary PCI with Resuscitation Accreditation. It's a wordy honor, but basically, it means Essentia's Heart Center does the best job in the state of recognizing and treating possible heart attack patients and resuscitating them from cardiac arrest.

The honor comes from the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care and Essentia's Heart Center is the only one in Minnesota to be recognized for Primary PCI, which means unblocking arteries, plus resuscitation, or bringing someone back to life.

"Our vast team of dedicated health care professionals has worked extremely hard to accomplish this important accreditation that truly sets us apart," says Richard Mullvain, who manages Essentia's Heart Attack Program. "We couldn't be more proud to be able to provide excellent cardiac care for the community."

In order to receive the accreditation, heart facilities must meet or exceed an array of stringent criteria and undergo an onsite review by accreditation specialists. Heart Centers must show a higher level of expertise in dealing with possible heart attack patients through a variety of ways including:

* Working with EMS, including flight nurses and paramedics to determine best practices.

* Assessing, diagnosing, and treating patients quickly.

* Effectively treating patients at low risk for heart problems that also have no cause for their symptoms.

* Continually seeking to improve processes and procedures.

* Ensuring the competence and training of personnel.

* Maintaining organizational structure and commitment to quality standards.

* Constructing a functional design that promotes optimal patient care by enacting changes to procedures when necessary.

* Supporting community outreach programs that educate the public to seek medical care promptly if they display symptoms of a possible heart attack.

Each year, 600,000 people die from a heart attack, making it the leading cause of death in the United States. The Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care's goal is to reduce those numbers by teaching the public to recognize and react to the early signs of a heart attack.

"Quality of care is perhaps the most important thing we can do to help our patients," says Essentia cardiologist, Dr. Michael Mollerus. "This accreditation helps us keep that focus to never let up on what is best for our patients."

Accreditation lasts for three years.

Essentia's Heart & Vascular Center treats, on average, 900 heart attack patients each year, that's more than two a day. Know the warning signs of a heart attack to increase your odds of survival:

* Chest pain or discomfort in your chest.

* Pain or discomfort in the upper body. This includes your arms, left shoulder, back, neck, jaw or stomach.

* Trouble breathing or shortness of breath.

* A feeling of fullness, indigestion or choking.

* Sweating, nausea or vomiting.

* Feeling light-headed or dizzy.

* Extreme weakness or feeling very anxious.

* Fast or uneven heartbeats.

Women are more likely than men to feel symptoms such as shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, back or jaw pain.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, call 911.