New Cardiac Cath Lab Will Help Physicians Get to the Heart of the Matter Quickly
For the 2,200 patients admitted to Baptist Medical Center Beaches with chest pain each year, every second counts. Although only 20 to 30 percent of those patients are having a heart attack, the ability to make that determination quickly can have a significant impact on the patient’s ability to recover and resume an active, healthy life.
As a certified chest pain center, Baptist Beaches has undergone rigorous evaluation to ensure our specially trained team meets national standards for “door-to-balloon time.” Door-to-balloon time refers to the time it takes for a patient to be identified as having chest pain to the time they enter a catheterization lab for balloon angioplasty.
Meeting or exceeding the national standards means physicians have a better chance of saving healthy heart muscle.
“Time is muscle,” says Carlos Sotolongo, MD, director of the Baptist Beaches Chest Pain Center. “The longer you go, the bigger the heart attack; the bigger the heart attack, the worse patients do in the long run.”
When preliminary tests indicate there could be blockage in the coronary arteries, a cardiac catheterization is the next step in diagnosing the problem and determining the best course of treatment.
The addition of a state-of-the-art Cardiac Catheterization Lab in April will provide a life-saving service that could benefit thousands of Beaches residents.
“When you can save 20 or 30 minutes by doing the procedure on-site, that’s huge,” says Dr. Sotolongo.
Considered the “gold standard” in diagnosing heart disease, cardiac catheterization is a minimally invasive procedure in which a thin, flexible tube, or catheter, is inserted into the artery or vein in the patient’s arm or leg. Once the catheter is inserted, the physician advances it to the heart using X-ray guidance. Contrast dye is injected through the catheter to outline the arteries and show any blockage that may be present.
“We can also look at the heart function and measure different pressures in the chambers of the heart for abnormalities,” says Bernardo Utset, MD, medical director of the Cardiac Catheterization Lab.
Unlike a stress test, which can only show that blockage exists, cardiac catheterization can pinpoint the exact cause, location and extent of almost any heart problem.
Because cardiac catheterization and interventional radiology require the same X-ray and monitoring equipment, the new Cardiac Cath Lab will be a hybrid that allows for both types of procedures to be performed in one location.
Combining the two labs into one space allows many conditions that once required surgery to now be treated through interventional radiology. Interventional radiologists use their expertise in reading X-rays, ultrasound and other medical images to guide small instruments such as catheters through blood vessels and other pathways to treat disease through the skin, thereby avoiding large cuts associated with traditional surgery.
“These treatments generally involve less pain and shorter recovery time,” says Steve Shirley, MD, board-certified interventional radiologist and president-elect for Baptist Medical Center Beaches medical staff.
We do a fair number of vertebroplasties which stabilize fractures in the spine,” says Dr. Shirley. “With this new equipment we’ll be able to see with the highest resolution, and resolve the pain for most patients.”