Soon after Tony DiChiara returned home from his shift as a respiratory therapist at Melrose-Wakefield Hospital last fall, he began having chills and crushing chest pains. As his wife called 911, he realized he was having a heart attack at only 48 years old.
"The ambulance tried to take me to Boston, but I said no," DiChiara recalled. "I wanted to go to MWH."
Timely delivery of cardiac care
Within minutes of arriving at the emergency department, patients undergo tests to determine whether they meet the criteria for angioplasty. During the procedure, a balloon-tipped catheter is inserted into the diseased artery to stretch the vessel and improve blood flow.
Performing emergency angioplasty within two hours of the onset of a heart attack has been shown to minimize heart damage in 95 percent of cases. MWH surgeons perform these procedures in less than 90 minutes in the majority of cases.
"When you are having a heart attack, time is of the essence," said board-certified interventional cardiologist Laurence Conway, MD, a co-medical director of the Cardiac and Endovascular Center at MWH, and the doctor who performed DiChiara's angioplasty. "Having angioplasty as an emergency procedure means that patients don't have to wait hours to receive treatment elsewhere."
The confidence that comes with experience
The angioplasty suite at MWH includes a team of interventional cardiologists, nurses and technologists. This highly skilled team gained valuable experience in angioplasty by performing hundreds of procedures and completing intensive training at MWH's tertiary care partner, Massachusetts General Hospital. With the advent of the new cardiac catheterization lab at MWH, the team brought its expertise to the community.
"Caring for our patients is a collaborative effort," Dr. Conway said. "Because we take a team approach to angioplasty procedures, we are able to work quickly and effectively."
The right choice
From the moment he arrived at MWH, DiChiara knew he'd made the right decision.
"Dr. Conway told me step-by-step what he was doing," he said. "He knew I was nervous, and he helped me to have full confidence in him and his team."
Weeks after his angioplasty, DiChiara started cardiac rehabilitation; he returned to full-time work shortly afterward.
"My life is back to normal," he said. "I have Dr. Conway and his staff, as well as my cardiologist, Dr. Turissini, to thank for saving my life and keeping me healthy post-angioplasty."
For more information For more information on angioplasty or a referral to one of our interventional cardiologists, call our physician referral line at 1-800-540-9191 or use our Find a Physician service.