New Heart Unit enjoys tremendous success with state-of-the-art technologypicture1-jpeg

Modern facilities allow for complex procedures

Rondebosch Medical Centre’s new Heart Unit is an ultra-modern, sophisticated facility that can boast of a Hybrid Cardiac Catheterisation Laboratory (Cath Lab), which includes a state-of-the-art Siemens Bi-Plane Cardiac Scanner and Electrophysiology capabilities.

Dr Ismail Shreef, CEO of Rondebosch Medical Centre, says that the new Heart Unit adds to the range of facilities offered at Rondebosch Medical Centre, which includes a Surgical Unit, Orthopaedic Unit, GIT Unit, Medical Unit, Intensive Care Unit, Oncology Unit, Renal Unit, Paediatric Unit, Maternity Unit, Neonatal Unit, Radiology, and Pathology Services. The Hospital has a 24-Hour Emergency Unit, overseen by Dr Shiraaz Shaikjee, trained in Emergency Medicine and Anaesthesia, and is equipped to cater for all emergencies including Cardiac Emergencies.

Cardiologist, Dr Saleem Dawood, says the new Hybrid Cardiac Cath Lab combines the diagnostic functions of a traditional Cath Lab with the surgical functions of an operating room, enabling doctors to perform both endovascular procedures and open surgical procedures.

The hospital’s Cardiac Theatre is also attached to the Cath Lab minimising risk to the patient as Cardiac surgery cases can be performed almost immediately with minimum transport or movement.

The cutting-edge medical technology in the Heart Unit is complimented by a team of highly experienced cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons, vascular surgeons and interventional radiologists, offering a comprehensive service at Rondebosch Medical Centre. The list of expert specialists include: Dr David Marshall, Dr Faizel Lorgat, Dr Saleem Dawood, Dr Zaid Mohamed, Dr Thayabran Pillay, Dr Hristo Boytchev, Dr Ebrahim Kader, Dr Andrew Lawson, Dr Willie Koen, Dr Kobus Louw, and Dr Loven Moodley.

Dr Dawood says the new Heart Unit combines best of breed technology with cardiologists that have extensive experience-based expertise. As he explained,

“For example, the Cath Lab is a bi-plane facility, which is safer for the patient as we use less dye than a with a single plane scanner. It is also possible to do more complex cases, because we can image in two planes at the same time,” says Dawood.

Dr Faizel Lorgat, Cardiologist and expert in the treatment of heart rhythm disorders or arrhythmias, says the unit has all the personnel, technology and equipment necessary to perform an extensive spectrum of procedures.

“Most Cath Labs are optimised to repair blocked arteries, however, the Rondebosch Medical Centre’s Hybrid Cath Lab goes beyond that as it is also equipped to handle complex heart rhythm issues with its Electrophysiology (EP) capabilities that is not available in many Cath Labs. This allows us to record, diagnose and cure heart rhythm problems, which is in addition to the screening facility used for opening blocked arteries using angioplasty.

“The unit is not only equipped to handle angioplasty in heart arteries, but also in peripheral vessels in the legs, groin and neck. It is a comprehensive cardiac, vascular and electrical intervention suite,” says Lorgat.

Dr David Marshall confirms the comprehensive nature of the new Heart Unit.

“We are able to take a patient through their whole journey from presentation to seeing them clinically, doing their ultrasounds, their treadmills, their non-invasive investigations, invasive procedures, and whether they need stents or a bypass or an electrical procedure.

Marshall says the Heart Unit has a well-coordinated team that consists of cardiologists, vascular surgeons, an electrophysiologist, radiologists, physiologists, and nurses that are on-call to act whenever called on day-or-night.

Lorgat agrees: “We have a large team that has a high success rate opening-up blocked arteries, which cause heart attacks, and a Cath Lab must have 24-7-cover by its team, because it is vital that patients are seen timeously and have their blocked arteries opened as soon as possible, after which they are placed in ICU.

“To provide the kind of service necessary to properly treat patients with heart attacks, which take place at all times of the day and night, it is crucial that a highly-experienced cardiac unit team is always on standby,” says Dr Lorgat.

He explains that there is a golden window of two hours from the onset of a heart attack during which time if the blockage is cleared there will be little-or-no damage.

Dr Marshall reiterated that time is of the essence: “Time equates to heart muscle – the public need to be educated that if they have severe chest pain they must go to a cardiac facility immediately”.

Dr Dawood reports that cardiac medicine has evolved tremendously. He says it is no longer necessary to simply send patients for by-pass surgery or give the patient drugs to cure clogged arteries as it is possible to conduct far more complex procedures in a modern Cath Lab such as the new unit at Rondebosch Medical Centre that result in better outcomes.

Dr Lorgat agrees: “There has been dramatic technological development, for example, only about ten years ago pacemakers had a single wire that was inserted into the heart and simply set the rate of the heart thereby stopping the heart from beating too slowly”.

“Now we have three and even four lead pacemaker systems. Modern pacemakers are externally programmable and allow a cardiologist to select the optimum pacing modes for individual patients. Some have multiple electrodes stimulating differing positions within the heart to improve synchronisation of the ventricles of the heart,” says Lorgat who recently performed a first-of-a-kind cardiac procedure at Rondebosch Medical Centre’s new Heart Unit.

“Rondebosch Medical Centre is part of an international study based in the United States; being the first hospital in South Africa to perform this procedure using a multi-point pacemaker and included the first patient in the world in this multi-point observational study that is comparing it to measure the benefit of the more-modern re-synchronisation devices,” says Dr Lorgat.

He says to practice as a cardiologist is incredibly satisfying with the support of a facility and the technology available at Rondebosch Medical Centre.

“We are able to achieve immediate, instantaneous results with the development of treatment using interventional technologies, from the use of special devices that suck clots out of the arteries to micro-cameras that image the insides of the arteries, and devices with which we are able to cut cholesterol plaque inside the arteries or open-up a collapsed artery and keep it supported.

“We have an incredible range of technologies at our disposal to achieve excellent results consistently and it is less and less necessary to open the chest to achieve the results, which are accomplished through tiny incisions in the groin arteries that is far-less invasive and allows for far quicker healing,” says Dr Lorgat

“When I think back, patients used to be in the ICU for between five and seven weeks, now patients come in with a heart attack evolving, we rush them into the cardiac theatre, open-up their artery and often they go home within 24-to-48 hours. Their rehabilitation is also very quick, because we protect muscle by performing the procedure as quick as possible,” he adds.

He says the Rondebosch Medical Centre is well situated to handle cardiac emergencies being centrally located and within easy access to Klipfontein Road, M5, N1 and N2, which is a huge plus for patients in the vicinity.