AN emergency heart service at Taunton's Musgrove Park Hospital that has treated more than 2,000 patients has celebrated its tenth anniversary.

The lifesaving treatment offers people a much greater chance of making a full recovery as quick intervention reduces the chance of heart muscle damage.

Patients from across Somerset and the surrounding area are rushed directly by ambulance to Musgrove's cardiology unit to be treated by a team of specialists, when previously they would have been taken to Bristol or Exeter.

The facility has helped patients get home quicker, with the average stay in hospital following a heart attack just three days.

The service operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and is run by a team of cardiologists, nurses, radiographers and cardiac physiologists.

Among the patients treated this year was Nigel, who felt an intense pressure in his chest and a complete loss of energy while at home in Taunton.

He was to the cardiology department, where tests showed he had suffered a heart attack.

Nigel said: "As soon as I arrived by ambulance at the hospital I was quickly taken into an operating theatre.

"I found all the staff very calm and well organised. Everything seemed to flow really well and I was put at ease in what was a really frightening situation.

"I didn’t feel any pain or sensations and within half an hour I was back on the coronary care unit to recover from the operation.

"Since returning home I have seen the hospital’s cardiac rehabilitation nurses, who have been helping me to get back to my normal self."

Musgrove consultant cardiologist Dr Mike Seddon said: "The rural geography of Somerset means it can be challenging to get people who have had a heart attack to the right place for life saving treatment, so we're very pleased to be able to offer an emergency heart attack service at Musgrove.

"Being part of a cardiology team is one of the most rewarding jobs in the world as we see people come into the hospital so ill and yet the majority walk out of the door a few days later looking so well.

"Our team of cardiac specialist nurses will give our patients advice on controlling conditions related to the heart, including diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol, as well as help to stop smoking and other positive lifestyle changes.

"Over the last 10 years we have seen many developments to the service as technology advances, including additional imaging techniques in our labs, which have helped improve the accuracy of diagnoses.

"We look forward to continuing to care for patients across Somerset and beyond."