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Hospital preps cardiac room

Health: About $1.3M invested in new equipment for heart program

Posted: February 21, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: February 21, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Dr. Jack Patterson demonstrates an angioplasty balloon used to widen a narrowed or obstructed blood vessel at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital in Valencia on Wednesday.

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Emergency open-heart surgery will be available without traveling outside the Santa Clarita Valley within a few months as Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital prepares to open a new cardiac operating room.

Combined, heart disease and stroke remain the leading causes of death in the United States, and Henry Mayo already sees a number of cardiac patients each year, said Dr. Jack Patterson, a cardiac surgeon who cares for patients at Henry Mayo.

Patterson estimated that an average of two to three patients each week, or about 150 each year, come to Henry Mayo suffering either heart attacks or other cardiac-disease problems.

For patients suffering heart attacks, doctors have a goal of restoring blood flow to the heart within 90 minutes, Patterson said. Many patients need invasive surgery to correct problems causing heart attacks; previously, they were unable to receive such surgery in the Santa Clarita Valley — often requiring transfers to other hospitals that can be as far as 30 minutes away.

“We don’t want anyone in our community to have to be transported long distances to receive their (treatment),” said Jean Marie Stewart, cardiovascular services consultant for Henry Mayo.

One of the methods of restoring blood flow to the heart is opening the blocked artery with a miniscule balloon and then inserting a tiny tube — or stent — to keep the valve open, Patterson said.

Henry Mayo officials have worked for the past several months on opening a cardiac operating room that will allow cardiologists to perform balloon angioplasties, stent insertions and open-heart surgery, Stewart said. The invasive-surgery program will begin dry runs in March and seek licensing by the state Department of Health Services before it’s used for open-heart surgery and stent insertion sometime in April.

These invasive procedures will be added to Henry Mayo’s current heart diagnostic system, which allows cardiologists to examine the heart’s valves and structure through a specialized X-ray machine that shows blockages and leaks within the heart.

These advanced procedures are used with noninvasive tests such as electrocardiograms and stress tests to determine the best options for patients with irregular heartbeats, blocked arteries and other heart issues.

The hospital invested $1.3 million in new equipment for the heart program, which includes the new cardiac laboratory, a new cardiac operating room and a recently remodeled intensive care unit, Stewart said.

In addition, the hospital has added a new cardiac gym that offers customized fitness plans for patients.

One of the important parts of a cardiac program is educating people on the signs of heart attacks and urging them to seek treatment for sudden onset of chest pain, Patterson said.

“We find all too often that people wait too long to seek treatment,” Patterson said. “All it does is further damage that heart muscle.”

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