Martha Jefferson Healthwise: Invasive Cardiology Team

July 3, 2013

Martha Jefferson Hospital is celebrating a special anniversary. For ten years, they've been offering invasive cardiology at their site helping patients who have heart attacks, those who need pacemakers and more.

When you're having problems with your heart, every second counts.

At Martha Jefferson Hospital, the invasive cardiology team is marking ten years of creating and improving services for heart patients.

"Basic invasive cardiology entails being able to get information about the heart both its function as a pump meaning we can evaluate the valves and the pumping chamber of the heart as well as the blood supply (the coronary arteries.) All of that can be done in the cardiac catheter lab," said Dr. Joshua Fischer, Medical Director of Cardiac Catheter Lab, Martha Jefferson Hospital.

Dr. Joshua Fischer works to find blockages in arteries that need to be fixed and he does that with a stent.

When patients are having a heart attack and are rushed to the hospital, he's also helps them get treated much quicker.

"The last ten years we've really focused on what we call our door to balloon times and we've been able to cut those by 50 percent getting our door to balloon times down to about 62 minutes which when we started this program it was over 120," said Dr. Fischer.

That's the time from which a patient enters the hospital until a medical balloon is inserted into the artery. That allows the artery to be opened and cleared of any blockage.

When it comes to invasive cardiac care, it doesn't end there. Dr. John Zakaib is the Director of Electrophysiology. He focuses primarily on disturbances of the heart rhythm and its electrical system.

"We offer medical therapy, an evaluation of problems, fainting spells and other problems which could be attributed to heart rhythm disorder," said Dr. John Zakaib.

"In the invasive labs we offer electrical conversion of abnormal heart rhythms back to normal as well as implantation of devices like pacemakers or cardiac defibrillators," said Dr. Zakaib, Director of Electrophysiology, Martha Jefferson Hospital.

In fact, during the department's 10 years in existence, they've accomplished a lot with device therapy.

"We've brought along the first rated frequency pacemaker several years ago and more recently we're planted the first MRI compatible pacemaker in Central Virginia. Thereafter, we've been participating in a trial studying MRI compatible devices in our patients and offering state of the art therapies," said Dr. Zakaib.

Both doctors say technology has come a long way over the last decade which has allowed them to better treat patients. Now they say they're looking forward what the next 10 years will bring.

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