Hybrid Suite for Hearts: Enhancing Cardiac Care for Patients

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Heart Disease

This spring, Long Beach Memorial will usher in the next generation of heart care, marked by reduced recovery times and hospital stays. When its state-of-the-art hybrid catheterization lab opens, even more precise evaluations, and gentle interventions, will benefit thousands of patients – including those stricken with complex heart disorders.

Warning Signs

During his career, talented technical illustrator Vernon Vogel, 75, oversaw the illustration of Boeing’s numerous display models for airline clients. In retirement he enjoyed playing golf twice a week , and was diligent about scheduling his annual
check-ups with his physician. Vernon’s most recent visit was life changing for the man who had always considered himself the picture of health.

“I’d been feeling tired and experienced some small chest pains with the occasional dizziness. I just always assumed it was age related,” says Vernon. “My physician ordered an echocardiogram, just to be on the safe side.”

Vernon’s test results showed a potentially hardened aortic heart valve that may have needed replacement. That’s when his doctor scheduled Vernon’s appointment with
Rex Winters, MD, medical director, invasive cardiology, MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute, Long Beach Memorial.

Silent Killer

After age 40, two in three men are at risk for developing cardiovascular disease. Vernon was no exception. He was diagnosed with severe aortic valve stenosis, a condition where the heart’s aortic valve narrows. Narrowing prevents the valve from opening properly, causing an obstruction of blood flow from the heart to the rest of the body.

“Your heart will actually try to compensate by working harder. Eventually, this extra work may weaken the heart muscle and cause symptoms such as fatigue or dizziness,” says Dr. Winters. “After the onset of symptoms, half of the men and women with this condition do not survive. Vernon’s aortic valve needed to be replaced immediately.”

Revolutionary Repairs

Physicians perform more than 15,000 diagnostic and 4,000 surgical heart procedures each year at the MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute at Long Beach Memorial. A specialized Valve Program allows cardiac experts to collaborate in the diagnosis, repair and replacement of deteriorating heart valves to determine the best treatment option for improved patient outcomes.

“Our goal is to restore heart health. Early diagnosis of aortic valve stenosis and all valve disorders allows for medical intervention to prevent further heart damage. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize they have a problem until the disease has progressed,” says Dr. Winters.

Future patients will experience even shorter hospital stays and recovery times at Long Beach Memorial’s new and spacious hybrid imaging suite and catheterization (cath) lab. Dedicated heart surgery teams, led by fellowship-trained interventional cardiologists and cardiac surgeons, each leaders in their fields,  work together on complex heart interventions. The lab’s advanced imaging technology will provide
three-dimensional image reconstruction for added detail and precision during the procedure.

“It’s the best of both worlds in the new hybrid cath lab,” says Dr. Winters. “Besides the highly advanced treatment of valve disorders when a patient needs a by-pass as well as an angioplasty to unblock arteries, we can do both surgeries at once, at the same time. No need to heal from one surgery before having the other. It reduces the stress – both physical and emotional – for patients when they don’t have to have two separate procedures.”

Protecting Hearts

Vernon was scheduled for his operation the same day as his diagnosis. Just five days later, Vernon was walking short distances with a walker. On the seventh day, he was able to return home to Garden Grove with his wife, Carol.

“I have a new appreciation for my heart and the small army of specialists at
Long Beach Memorial who repaired my valve,” says Vernon. “Carol and I have added a lot of things to our bucket list because I feel great!”