CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A new American Heart Association initiative aims to reduce the number of people in West Virginia who die of heart attacks.
Health-care officials and emergency medical service providers from around the state met Friday at the West Virginia Lottery building to kick off Mission: Lifeline.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and in West Virginia. The Mountain State also has the highest prevalence of people who report that a doctor told them they previously suffered a heart attack, according to the heart association.
The aim of the Mission: Lifeline initiative is to improve the system of care for heart attack patients -- from EMS to hospitals.
"It really is about making sure the system works," said Mayme Roettig, the assistant director of the Center for Educational Excellence at Duke University's Clinical Research Institute. Roettig, who grew up in Charleston and attended nursing school at the University of Charleston, has been a driving force for the national Mission: Lifeline program and was on hand for the rollout of the local initiative Friday.
Roettig has a personal reason for her interest in improving the health-care system for cardiac patients: Her brother died at 37 of a heart attack.
Roettig said the goal of the program is to create two plans of care for heart-attack patients: one for EMS and one for hospitals and doctors.
"You don't need CAMC competing with Thomas, or St. Mary's competing with Cabell, right?" she said. "Everybody needs to work together so that this life-threatening event can be managed just like trauma."