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Innovation in Action at the Heart & Vascular Center

Last Updated Friday, August 12, 2011 2:13:14 PM


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The Heart & Vascular Institute: A Beat Ahead

Innovation is truly at the heart of every service provided by the Heart & Vascular Institute at El Camino Hospital. We offer an unparalleled combination of services, delivered by world-class specialists on the cutting edge of the field. Our experience and expertise, coupled with new high-tech facilities and equipment, enable us to lead the region with a fully integrated range of care for the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of cardiovascular issues. Our goal is to be in the top 10 percent of cardiovascular programs in the United States, based on outstanding quality and care. With that in mind, we continually introduce innovative services and programs like the ones described here.

First Chest Pain Center Certification in the Area

In 2008, we took the lead and worked to become the first Chest Pain Center in the region to be certified by the Society of Chest Pain Centers. To earn this designation, the program has to meet or exceed national quality standards for the full spectrum of heart-related services. This certification applies to every facet of heart care and treatment from primary prevention (before the manifestation of heart disease symptoms), acute heart disease treatment, and secondary prevention (after treatment for a heart condition to limit future heart-related events).

The Chest Pain Center consistently achieves door-to-treatment times that are up to 30 percent faster than the national standard of 90 minutes. Studies show that certified Chest Pain Centers can typically reduce mortality up to almost 40 percent in comparison to non-certified Chest Pain Centers.

First and Only Collaborators with EMS in Transit

For heart attack patients, time is tissue, and every minute counts. That’s why we’ve teamed up with local emergency services personnel to use LifeNet, a new electrocardiogram (ECG) transmission and heart attack alert system from Medtronic, Inc. LifeNet transmits diagnostic-quality electrocardiograms (ECGs) from the ambulance to hospital staff via a secure, Web-based alert system. If the heart attack is determined to be a STEMI (ST-elevation myocardial infarction), the most dangerous kind and the most damaging to heart muscle, an alert then goes out to everyone involved in the patient’s care, from the emergency department physicians and nurses to the cardiac catheterization (cath) lab team. Key cardiovascular physicians can even view results of an incoming patient’s ECG on a smart phone. A smart innovation, indeed!

Setting the Pace for Treatment of Irregular Rhythms (A-fib)

Atrial fibrillation (A-fib), or irregular heartbeats, are disorganized rhythms of the upper chamber of the heart. Symptoms can range from none at all to a racing heartbeat, palpitations, shortness of breath, or even feelings of impending doom. The disorder is common, although often untreated. Once detected, there are several ways to treat A-fib, which can cause blood clots, stroke, and congestive heart failure. Doctors look at patient’s symptoms, stroke risk, overall health symptoms, overall health, age, and other factors. Here at the Heart & Vascular Institute, we offer a unique combined approach. Our cardiologists, electrophysiologists, and surgeons work together on a treatment plan, and for many patients the solution may include a combination of medication, nonsurgical options like catheter ablation, and minimally invasive surgeries like VATS-Maze surgery. Our team is one of just a few in Northern California to perform the Maze procedure, which can be done on a beating heart with just a few small incisions.

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A Collaborative Spirit that Knows no Bounds--Including the Operating Room

Treatment for many acute heart ailments has traditionally fallen squarely in one domain or the other--interventional or surgical. But our collaborative experts realize that many patients can benefit from a combined approach--or, at the very least, a collaborative conversation between experts. That’s why our physicians work closely together to assess cases carefully. We offer more options to solve typical maladies, and we even perform unique hybrid procedures that combine both traditional and minimally invasive techniques. We are renowned for offering an incredible array of options, from minimally invasive endovascular procedures to traditional open surgical procedures. Many of our pioneering procedures are made possible by our participation in clinical trials, through our partnership with the Taft Center for Clinical Research at the Fogarty Institute for Innovation. The Heart & Vascular Institute is the only site in the Western United States offering nonsurgical mitral and aortic valve replacement via catheter-based technology.

Clinical Trials: Staying on the Forefront of Cardiac and Vascular Care

Individuals cared for at the Heart & Vascular Institute have access to the latest medicines, devices, and techniques, because we are dedicated to investing in the program to stay on the forefront of cardiac and vascular care. Our physicians are participating in a variety of clinical trials, giving patients access to new experimental therapies for conditions that may not respond adequately to existing approaches, as well as helping to advance treatment technologies for the region.

Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI): Good News for Patients with Advanced Aortic Stenosis

We are one of only 40 centers in the United States selected to participate in this clinical trial, arguably one of the most coveted studies in the cardiovascular arena in decades. During this nonsurgical, percutaneous intervention, a device is placed by catheter via the femoral artery inside the diseased valve. Traditional open-heart surgery can be avoided, and early results are promising as patients face fewer complications and recovery time is greatly reduced. This technology offers an alternative option to individuals suffering from severe aortic valve disease and heart failure--many of whom are simply not well enough to withstand traditional treatment.