Time is Muscle

Time is Muscle; Time Wasted is Muscle Lost

This is a familiar slogan to nurses and physicians working in the emergency department (ED) when a patient enters with chest pain indicating that a heart attack is in progress. Loss of time is equated to loss of heart muscle, resulting in less life enjoyment that depends on physical activity. The cause of the heart attack is usually a complete blockage of one of the heart vessels; complete destruction of the muscle being supplied by that vessel occurs over a six-hour period of time.

It is important to note that 85% of muscle damage takes place within the first hour. This is often referred to as the “golden hour.” It is within this time frame that the heart vessel needs to be opened. If time is lost and the vessel is opened after this time frame, the benefit is much less. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that action be taken early. Thus the term, “Time is Muscle.” This is a truly an emergency.

The best way to stop the heart attack process is to detect the symptoms early, before damage to the heart muscle occurs. When considering whether or not to go to the hospital with chest discomfort, or chest pain, it is better to be safe than to be sorry. The heart muscle must be saved, and time is of the essence.

It is critical for those who experience any chest discomfort or pain to quickly get to the emergency department to be evaluated. It’s not the heart attack itself that kills; it is also the time wasted when one is trying to decide whether or not to go to the hospital.

© Spectrum Health Lakeland 2020