Heart Attack Day

Pictured: Dr. John Ducas, SBH cardiologist and Medical Director of the ACS Network, with Dr. Lorraine Avery, RN, PhD, regional nurse specialist at SBH

Heart attacks are a big problem across Manitoba; one that is worse in remote communities. Exchanging knowledge is the key to solving that problem, says an expert in St. Boniface Hospital’s Cardiac Sciences Program.

To help improve the outcomes of heart attack patients in the province, the Manitoba Acute Coronary Syndrome (ACS) Network held its third annual Heart Attack Day educational event on October 11 at the Hospital’s Albrechtsen Research Centre. (Acute coronary syndrome can represent a range of heart problems, from unstable angina to heart attack.)

More than 150 Manitoba physicians, nurses, pharmacists, emergency medical services and educators braved a snowy winter storm day and came to the Hospital to share information, have their questions answered, participate in workshops, and learn best care of patients with heart attacks.

How big is the problem? Every week across Manitoba, about 60 people have heart attacks – a third of whom are from rural and remote communities outside of Winnipeg, says Dr. John Ducas, a cardiologist at St. Boniface Hospital, and Medical Director of the ACS Network.

Ducas co-hosted Heart Attack Day with his ACS Network co-chair Lorraine Avery, RN, PhD, who is a regional clinical nurse specialist at St. Boniface Hospital.

“So, this adds up,” says Ducas. “This is a huge impact of patients; their lives are affected. The average age we’re talking about is 62. Some of them can be much younger than that. We’re not talking about 90-year-olds that are having issues late in life.”

“We have this huge population across our province, some living within the city; some living way outside. It’s happening to relatively young people, often still working. And it’s happening disproportionately to our First Nations people, who have a much higher rate per capita.”

We have tremendous challenges here because of the huge size of our province.

“We have one single cardiac centre, St. Boniface Hospital, whose job it is to provide the best possible care for patients all over Manitoba. There are doctors and nurses who are in smaller centres, and in Northern nursing stations, that need support,” says Ducas.

Providing optimal care – that is, making sure the right patient gets the right drug at the right dose – is one important step. The other is to harmonize, he says: “We’ve got to make sure that all the health care providers are on the same page. And so, that’s the essence of the ACS Network; to do what we can throughout this province, within the city and well beyond, to see that we have the best and harmonized care.”

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