BROOKSVILLE — When you're having a heart attack, every minute counts.
With the expansion of Brooksville Regional Hospital's cardiac program, residents on the east side of the county now have a closer-to-home option for help.
The hospital announced this week that it has been granted state approval to perform cardiac stenting, balloon angioplasty and similar heart interventions.
Most heart attacks are caused by an artery blockage, said Corey Lively, chief operating officer at Brooksville Regional. "Previously, we were not a facility designed to open that artery.
"The most critical piece when a person finds themselves in an emergency is time," Lively added. "Eight, 10, 15, 20 minutes makes all the difference in the world."
In the past, patients living in Brooksville have had to travel to Oak Hill, Citrus Memorial or Bayonet Point hospitals to get such services. Oak Hill, in Spring Hill, is the only hospital in Hernando County where open-heart surgery is performed.
One of the most common ways to open a blocked artery is through the use of stenting, a catheter-based procedure in which a small wire is placed in a diseased artery, causing it to open and restoring blood flow.
"In the case of a patient who may be having a heart attack, restoring blood flow to the heart muscle within 90 minutes of a patient's arrival at the hospital yields great benefits, including less heart damage," said Dr. Thomas Mathews, medical director of the percutaneous coronary intervention program at Brooksville Regional Hospital.