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“Hot Wire” Tech Helps Cure Heart Rhythm Problems

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EMBARGOED UNTIL 6.00pm TUESDAY 12 AUGUST,2008

“Hot Wire” Technology Helps Cure Heart Rhythm Problems

Heart problems that once required major heart surgery and significant patient recuperative time can now be treated with “hot wires” inserted through an artery or vein and the patient discharged in a day, thanks to advanced medical technology being used by Mercy Angiography.

The opening of Mercy Angiography’s new Electrophysiology and Angiography suite at Mercy Hospital by National Party leader John Key today also opens up a pathway for the introduction of even more ‘radical’ technology-based solutions to coronary heart disease, says the Medical Director of Mercy Angiography, Dr John Ormiston.

He says that just a very few years ago, issues of heart arrhythmia and blocked or narrowed arteries were treated under a surgeon’s knife – major and delicate surgery that required relatively long and intensive periods of patient management and aftercare.

“Today, and particularly with the technology in this suite, treatments can be carried out on a day-patient basis, are highly effective and carry much less patient risk,” he says.

“The benefits, for the patient and in the savings on the resource costs to the wider health sector, are immense.”

The new angiography suite is equipped with the latest state-of-art technology that allows high resolution imaging of the coronary arteries and other cardiac structures and electrophysiology equipment that detects, measures and monitors the heart’s electrical impulses under treatment.

Arrhythmias or heart rhythm problems are a relatively common experience for a large number of New Zealanders. The symptoms can be quite disabling, affecting people’s ability to work, drive or live a normal life.

Under electrophysiology, patients have conscious sedation or occasionally general anaesthesia while special monitoring catheters are inserted into the heart through an artery or vein to “map-out” where the problem is coming from. Once pin-pointed, an ablating catheter – essentially a “hot-wire” – is then inserted so it lies next to the area that is causing the arrhythmia and in a controlled process, radio-electrical energy “burns” are made in the heart tissue to block the abnormal pathway of the heart’s own electrical impulses.

This effectively cures the problem for patients who otherwise would have had open heart surgery or a lifetime of powerful drugs, hospital visits and sometimes heart damage, ahead of them.

Already the new suite, and technology, is being used by a growing number of cardiac and radiology specialists who work across both the private and public health sectors.

Mercy Angiography works closely with the Auckland Heart Group, the country’s largest private cardiology group with 20 cardiologists.

Auckland Heart Group cardiologist and electrophysiologist, Dr. David Heaven, who trained in London and Chicago, and also works at Middlemore and Auckland City Hospitals, is leading the EP program at Mercy Angiography.

He says there is a huge need for this technology. “The procedures are much lower risk that open surgery, and the long term benefits to the patient are immense. From a cost benefit perspective, the procedures are much more effective than lifelong drug treatment, and repeat visits to hospital.”

Dr Ormiston says Mercy Angiography’s investment in the new technology means a much more effective and efficient outcome for patients.

“It means those with particular heart problems can be diagnosed and receive treatment much more quickly, complications attendant to surgery can be avoided, patient recovery time is reduced from a number of weeks to just a few hours and the overall cost of such a procedure significantly reduced.”

Mercy Angiography has a long history of innovation with new less invasive techniques and technologies to achieve optimal outcomes for patients with heart problems and is an internationally recognised clinical research facility in interventional cardiology.

A number of the specialists have a national and international reputation. Dr Ormiston has done pioneering work developing new types of stents, and new interventional procedures on the heart. The centre is now looking to further uses of technology and expertise to provide treatment for patients whose conditions would otherwise be inoperable.


ENDS

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