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Our view: Quick remedy best treatment for heart attack

How do you survive a heart attack? Fast action is your best weapon.

Why? Because clot-busting drugs and other artery-opening treatments can stop a heart attack in its tracks. They can prevent or limit damage to the heart - but they need to be given immediately after symptoms begin. The sooner they are started, the more good they will do - and the greater the chances are for survival and a full recovery.

To be most effective, they need to be given ideally within one hour of the start of heart attack symptoms.

- From the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's Web site on heart attack prevention

The message is clear. When a heart attack strikes, time is of the essence.

The closer you are to the remedy, the greater chances of survival with minimal damage.

Wouldn't you feel better if that remedy were close by?

Gwinnett Medical Center does not offer open-heart services, but it wants to. The first step in adding this medical treatment is for the hospital system to receive approval of a Certificate of Need (CON) from the state's Department of Community Health. Simply put, the hospital must convince this board that an open-heart program is needed and justified here.

That shouldn't be difficult; Gwinnett is the most populous county in the nation that doesn't have open-heart services within its borders. More than 8,000 patients with cardiac-related issues came to Gwinnett Medical Center's emergency room last year. Many of those who required open-heart services were sent to an Atlanta hospital via roads infamous for their gridlock. When traffic is at a standstill, an ambulance's siren does little to speed its travels.

So one would think the argument for an open-heart program here is strong. Yet, when applying for a CON, there are no slam dunks.

That's where the people of Gwinnett can step in. Residents can show their support for this program by submitting a letter detailing their experiences related to open-heart services and why they feel they are needed here. These letters will be used in the application.

There are two ways to submit your letters:

' Visit www.openheartgwinnett.org or

' Mail letters to: Attn: Open Heart, Director of Marketing and Public Relations, 100 Medical Center Boulevard, Ste. 257, Lawrenceville, GA 30045

Thus far, 100 letters have been received.

If you or a friend or a family member suffered a heart attack, wouldn't you want the needed services nearby? You owe it to yourself and to them to support this cause.

Do it today.

The message is clear: When a heart attacks strikes, time is of the essence.

The unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the Gwinnett Daily Post. Columns, letters to the editor and cartoons reflect the opinions of the individuals who penned them. It is the policy of the Gwinnett Daily Post to correct all errors of fact. Corrections usually run on Page 4A.