"I owe my life to them": KGH's heart attack centre marks 10 years of care

It's saved many, many lives in the past decade

Wednesday, 10th March 2021, 7:15 am
The heart attack centre is celebrating 10 years of care.

When mum-of-two Tricia Barratt left home to go to work on February 17, 2019, she had no idea what would happen next.

She was standing in the shop where she worked in Kettering and thought she had a migraine. The next thing she remembers was looking up at a nurse in intensive care at Kettering General Hospital having suffered numerous cardiac arrests and having had an emergency PPCI (primary percutaneous coronary intervention).

After spending a week in intensive care, and then another week in Oakley Ward, she was allowed to go home. But she may not be here today if it wasn't for the hospital's 24/7 Heart Attack Centre, which is celebrating ten years of delivering life-saving care to the people of Northamptonshire, south Leicestershire and south Lincolnshire.

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A cardiac monitor during a procedure in the Catheter Laboratory control room

Her story is just one of many from people who have had their life saved at the centre - with more than 4,000 patients benefiting from the emergency service since its launch.

The 52-year-old Kettering woman, who has three grandchildren, said: “I saw the shop’s CCTV video of me falling unconscious and the paramedics arriving. I was told later I had five further cardiac arrests in the ambulance and had to be revived once more in hospital.

“It is absolutely amazing what they do to bring you back and solve the problem. They deserve all the recognition in the world for what they do.”

She added: “The care I received was faultless from the paramedics, to the team in the Cardiac Centre and to team in Intensive Care and on the cardiac ward. They all do an incredible job. I owe my life to them.”

A wire is passed through the wrist artery into the heart to carry the balloon and stent

Another to be grateful for the service, which is delivered by an expert multidisciplinary team, is 60-year-old Jeanne Cox from Northampton.

She had a heart attack in November 2020 after a stressful week at work.

Mrs Cox, who has three children and 11 grandchildren, said: “I had pains in my chest which weren’t going away and I called the ambulance. On the way the paramedics told me I was having a heart attack.

“I had an angiogram and then they went in and removed clots from my heart and put in a stent. I was in hospital for four days and then two weeks later had a second stent fitted - I was able to go home on the same day from that.

“I felt instantly better after the procedure. I had never been to KGH but it was amazing. I couldn’t fault the care. I have since had support through their Post MI Clinic where you get advice on healthy eating, exercise, and medication.”

KGH’s clinical director of cardiology, Dr Salman Nishtar, said the service has allowed patients from a wide area to be brought to the cardiac centre to undergo prompt PPCI.

This is a treatment to open up the blocked arteries which are causing the heart attack using small balloons and stents.

He said: “Prior to the launch of our service heart attack patients faced travelling to other specialist centres for this life-saving treatment, which could result in significant delays.

“The success of this service has largely been based on the selflessness and cohesive working between the nurses, physiologists, radiographers and doctors.

“Working in a seamless manner is essential in these critical conditions where time is of the essence. The service has also relied heavily on close working with the local intensive care team - these patients often arrive in a perilous state and their expert support is essential to achieve the best outcome.”

The service at the Rothwell Road hospital was launched in October 2010, working from their £4.7m Cardiac Centre.

Practice development nurse Bino Job took the first call for the first patient to have a PPCI back in 2010. At the time he was a staff nurse in the Cardiac Centre.

He said: “Since the first patient I have seen hundreds of patients have PPCIs. An extended team of people are involved from the ambulance service, to the cardiac team and intensive care and our wards too.

"We are very proud of what we have achieved for the people of Northamptonshire over the last ten years."

The Intensive Care Unit also plays a vital role in the service. Consultant Dr Phil Watt said: "While the majority of patients who come through the Cardiac Centre recover remarkably quickly as a result of these impressive and timely interventions, a small but significant number will require additional support, especially if they have experienced a cardiac arrest.

“This is where ITU comes in, and is an example of why team working is so important. Patients admitted to ITU following a major cardiac event are often very unstable and highly complex to manage, requiring additional mechanical support with breathing, kidneys, and their circulation, sometimes by means of a device called an intra-aortic balloon pump.

“ITU nurses and doctors work closely with our cardiologists to ensure that patients and their families receive the best care and attention possible at such a stressful time. Our ITU team have enjoyed being a part of developing this acute service in our hospital, working with our cardiology colleagues for the benefit of patients from a large geographical area. “

The performance of the 24/7 emergency PPCI service is regularly monitored and compares well with other centres nationally, hospital bosses said.

In 2019 it was one of four national pilot sites for new UEC (urgent emergency care) targets looking at further reducing the time between the patients arriving at the hospital and receiving the PPCI treatment (door to balloon time).

The ambitious target was that 75 per cent of patients should receive their treatment within that time, with a review of times at KGH showing that 84 per cent of patients received their PPCI within 60 minutes.

Last year it was visited by Prof Nick Linker, the national clinical director for heart disease for NHS England/Improvement, and national medical director for England, Prof Stephen Powis, and praised for its results.

The hospital also says the establishment of KGH as a heart attack centre has had follow-on benefits including a reduced length in the stay and recovery of heart attack patients as well as a seven-day-a-week service for those with minor heart attacks.

Michael Jones, general manager for Northamptonshire at East Midlands Ambulance Service, said: “I would like to congratulate all involved with the Northamptonshire PPCI service on their 10 year anniversary.

“For many years now, we have worked closely with our hospital and primary care trust colleagues within the Northamptonshire PPCI service and it has made such a big difference to patients and the community.”

And Dr Joanne Watt, Northamptonshire CCG's GP chair, said: “This is a timely reminder for all patients who are experiencing new chest pains not to delay seeking medical assistance and to call 999 immediately.

“You should also call 999 if you experience stroke symptoms such as sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the body, sudden speech difficulty or confusion, or difficulty seeing in one or both eyes. Every minute counts with heart attacks and strokes, and the quicker you receive medical care, the better your chances of survival and recovery.”