SAS® Analytics uncovers new heart attack treatments that extend survival rates in Wake County, NC

New approach honored at national emergency medical services conference

Wake County (NC) heart attack victims have a better chance at survival thanks to new, analytics-driven recommendations from the county’s Emergency Medical Services. Based on a data analysis project conducted by the SAS Advanced Analytics Lab for State and Local Government, Wake County EMS changed its recommendations for how long to conduct CPR on cardiac arrest patients.

Wake County EMS presented the findings at the National Association of EMS Physicians (NAEMSP) annual meeting, where the paper was recognized as the “Best EMS Professional Research Presentation.”    

For years, emergency responders administered CPR to heart attack victims for up to 25 minutes, which was the industry standard. Wake County EMS personnel believed, based on anecdotal experience, that patients could recover fully if CPR was continued far beyond that time.

Wake County EMS responds to approximately 88,000 calls per year, including 500 cardiac arrests that require CPR. Wake County EMS had 20 years of data about cardiac arrest patients and whether EMS crews restored a pulse doing CPR, but lacked information on how the patients fared once they were in the hospital.

In 2005, Wake County EMS began to receive data from area hospitals on patient outcomes. It hired SAS to analyze data on all responses to cardiac arrest calls from 2005 through 2012, including the amount of time spent administering CPR, and the patient outcomes. 

As a result of the analyses, Wake County EMS has changed its recommendations for cardiac patients. If a patient has a flatline on a heart monitor, emergency responders may stop CPR after 25-30 minutes. However, if they are able to see cardiac activity during CPR, they may continue CPR for up to an hour or more without worrying that the patient will have a higher chance of ending up in a vegetative state.

Wake County EMS found that if they had continued under the old guideline from 2005-2012 and ceased CPR at 25 minutes, 100 people (who ultimately left the hospital) would have died.

“By practicing evidence-based medicine, guided by data, many Wake County residents are alive today who wouldn’t have been,” said Dr. Brent Myers, Director of Wake County EMS. “Our recognition at the annual meeting gives us hope that our approach will be replicated by other EMS groups around the country, and save more lives.”

Wake County EMS plans additional projects with the SAS Advanced Analytics Lab that could improve care and efficiencies. For instance, it plans to look for specific predictors of survival with intact brain function during extended-duration CPR. It will investigate whether the amount of carbon dioxide exhaled by a patient can help guide EMS crews’ decision making during cardiac arrest resuscitations.  

The SAS Advanced Analytics Lab offers government customers extensive support through technical expertise, government-specific advanced analytic solutions, and cloud computing dedicated to hosting state and local government data. It is led by John Brocklebank, PhD, Vice President of SAS Solutions OnDemand.

“This project illuminates the profound effects government agencies can have on the lives of citizens, especially when armed with analytics,” said Brocklebank.

SAS technologies and solutions for government are used in government agencies in all 50 states to transform their operations to deliver the right services, at the right time, with the appropriate resources. SAS offers a wide array of data management, business intelligence and analytics solutions, and collaborates with governments to create innovative offerings tailored to specific departmental and agency goals.



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