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Phelps Health Introduces 24/7 Care for STEMI Heart Attacks

Phelps Health interventional cardiologists
Phelps Health now has three interventional cardiologists who treat the most severe type of heart attack called a STEMI. From left to right: Dr. Fawad Virk, Dr. Lincoln Shenje and Dr. Stilianos Efstratiadis.

Published on April 26, 2024

Read Time: 3 Minutes

Three Things to Know

  • Phelps Health now offers 24/7 care for STEMI heart attacks, the most severe kind of heart attack.
  • Previously, residents in the area had to travel up to 2 hours for this type of care, delaying treatment and potentially causing more damage.
  • This new program provides quicker diagnosis and treatment, improving patient outcomes and potentially saving lives.

Phelps Health has launched around-the-clock care services to treat the most severe type of heart attack called a ST-segment-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI). A STEMI is commonly referred to as a widowmaker heart attack, and they occur when there’s a complete blockage in a major artery in the heart.

Phelps Health cardiologists say offering this treatment is an incredible benefit for the area. 

Stilianos Efstratiadis, MD, FACC, FSCAI
Stilianos Efstratiadis, MD,

“Heart attacks can happen at any time, and they need to be taken care of promptly,” said Stilianos Efstratiadis, MD, FACC, FSCAI, an interventional cardiologist at Phelps Health. “Having an experienced interventional STEMI program is huge for the people in the community. They can have their heart issue taken care of immediately instead of traveling two hours and jeopardizing their health.”

Previously, patients in south-central Missouri had to travel up to two hours to Columbia, Springfield or St. Louis, Missouri, for care. Prompt treatment for a STEMI is crucial to prevent permanent heart damage.

“Suddenly, there's no blood flow coming to your heart. The artery has to be opened immediately to restore blood flow because every minute that passes by, the heart muscle is dying,” said Dr. Efstratiadis. “You need somebody to open it as soon as possible. That's why it's so important to have a STEMI program in our community.” 

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services designated Phelps Health as a Level III STEMI center. Phelps Health’s two cardiac catheterization laboratories are now open 24/7 to help diagnose and treat severe heart attacks right away. The health system has also assembled a multidisciplinary team of highly skilled physicians, nurses and heart care specialists equipped with the expertise to provide comprehensive care. This dedicated team is poised to deliver rapid diagnosis, prompt intervention and personalized treatment plans, ultimately enhancing patient outcomes and saving lives.

"Our mission at Phelps Health is to deliver exceptional healthcare that meets the evolving needs of our community," said Jason Shenefield, President and CEO of Phelps Health. "By introducing specialized care for STEMI heart attacks, we are reinforcing our commitment to providing timely, high-quality services that make a meaningful difference in the lives of our patients in south-central Missouri."

The new STEMI care program at Phelps Health emphasizes a collaborative approach, leveraging the collective experience and knowledge of healthcare professionals to improve patient outcomes. From the moment a STEMI event is identified anywhere in the region, the team springs into action, to collaborate with area healthcare providers to evaluate and receive the patient, and to use advanced diagnostic tools and evidence-based treatments to restore blood flow to the heart muscle and minimize damage.

Dr. Efstratiadis recommends that people who live in south-central Missouri establish care at Phelps Health before they have a heart issue, especially if they have a family history of heart disease.

“You don't have the luxury to wait. You have to be taken care of locally so the care team knows about your medical records and your specific procedures,” said Dr. Efstratiadis.

Patients experiencing symptoms of a heart attack, such as chest pain, shortness of breath and nausea, should seek immediate medical attention by calling 911. Do not attempt to drive yourself to the hospital.

Phelps Health remains steadfast in its dedication to provide accessible, compassionate care to all members of the community, and to ensure that every patient receives the timely intervention they need to achieve the best possible outcome.

Schedule an appointment

For more information about Phelps Health's STEMI care services or to schedule an appointment, please contact the Phelps Health Heart and Vascular Center at (573) 308-1301.