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For Release:
May 22, 2007

Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D.

For Further Information Contact:
Thomas Slater

National Experts to Speak at Conference on Heart Attack Care “From Sirens to Balloons: Optimizing Myocardial Infarction Care in New Jersey”


Heart attack patients must receive quick, effective medical treatment if they are to have the greatest chance of survival.  But what is the best way to ensure that each heart attack patient gets the right care as soon as possible?             


National experts in the triage, transport and care of cardiac patients will discuss this issue at a May 30 conference in New Brunswick, “From Sirens to Balloons:  Optimizing Myocardial Infarction Care in New Jersey.”


The conference is sponsored by the Cardiovascular Health Advisory Panel of the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, the American Heart Association, the New Jersey Chapter of the American College of Cardiology, and the New Jersey Hospital Association.


"We are committed to making New Jersey a leader in treating people with acute heart attack, said Health and Senior Services Commissioner Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D.  “Over the years, the Department expanded the number of hospitals that can provide emergency angioplasty – a life-saving treatment used to open blocked coronary arteries in people having heart attacks.


“Now, it’s time to take a closer look at the best available techniques for reducing the time from first heart attack symptoms to delivery of angioplasty. This conference will give everyone involved in patient triage, transport and care an opportunity to learn from the experts,” he added.  


During angioplasty, a tiny catheter with a balloon on the end is inserted into the patient’s artery and advanced to the blocked coronary artery running on the surface of the heart.  The balloon is then inflated, pushing the obstruction out of the way and opening the artery.


Most states regulate the procedure, which must be done in a specially equipped catheterization lab in a hospital.  DHSS licenses 42 New Jersey hospitals to provide emergency angioplasty.  Patients who go to non-angioplasty hospitals can be given other medical treatments – such as clot-dissolving drugs -- or be transferred to a hospital that does perform the procedure.


The State of Maryland is now developing emergency medical services (EMS) protocols that would be used to formally triage patients having heart attacks.  Using these protocols, EMS workers would take a patient directly to the most appropriate hospital for treatment of his or her condition, even if it’s not the closest hospital.


The executive director of the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems is a featured speaker at the conference.  Robert Bass, M.D. will discuss the ideal emergency medical response system for heart attack patients, the best pre-hospital and emergency department practices, and strategies for triaging patients.


Harlan Krumholz, M.D, professor of medicine and epidemiology at Yale University, will present on, “Pressure Points – Strategies that make a Difference.” He will discuss opportunities in the care process to reduce time to treatment and the changes that would be required to improve the process, as well as the feasibility of spurring change across multiple hospitals.


Other featured speakers are:


  • David Faxon, M.D., a past president of the American Heart Association, speaking on “Acute Myocardial Infarction – Mapping an Ideal Path.”
  • Mark Merlin, D.O., EMT-P, medical director of Robert Wood Johnson Emergency Medical Services at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and chair of the New Jersey Mobile Intensive Care Advisory Committee, speaking on “EMS in New Jersey – Current Structure and Status.”
  • Charles Dennis, M.D., chairman of the Commissioner’s Cardiovascular Health Advisory Panel, speaking on “Where Do We Go from Here – MI Care in New Jersey.”


William Tansey, M.D., a member of the Commissioner’s Cardiovascular Health Advisory Panel, will serve as moderator.  Commissioner Jacobs will give opening remarks for the conference.


Cardiologists and emergency department physicians, paramedics and other emergency medical services workers, hospital officials, and those interested in health care policy are invited to attend the conference. Continuing medical education credits are available.


To pre-register, call 609-223-3733 or e-mail


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