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Making a big difference with small incisions

Dr. Sohrab Lutchmedial, Interventional Cardiologist and Medical Director New Brunswick Heart Centre Research Initiative

Interventional cardiology at the New Brunswick Heart Centre is an important part of cardiac care, providing treatments that extend and improve the quality of life without doing invasive surgery.

Interventional cardiology involves using a small catheter inserted through a blood vessel to either unblock arteries with a balloon and stent or to fix valves in the heart. Interventional cardiologists can change lives through relatively short procedures that involve a quick recovery time.

Dr. Vernon Paddock, an interventional cardiologist and medical director of the NB Heart Centre, says the number of patients who have received interventional therapies has grown since he started practicing at the Centre in 1992.

The Heart Centre initially offered diagnostic angiograms and angioplasties. Today, it covers those areas, as well as procedures that improve the functioning of valves in the heart, vital to good heart function and overall health.

Paddock says the Heart Centre has seen changes to the technology and treatment options over the years, and outcomes have improved with new advances.

Dr. Lutchmedial

When he first began practicing in New Brunswick, to unblock an artery they would insert a balloon through a catheter, inflate it, and leave the artery stretched to clear. However, they found some people's arteries would become blocked again.

 

Dr. Sohrab Lutchmedial, Interventional cardiologist at work in the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory.

 

 

An advancement came when they introduced stents to help maintain the cleared artery. That improved the situation, but some arteries continued to close up. Most recently, a drug coating has been added to the stent, preventing scar tissue from forming and decreasing the number of people whose arteries close up again after intervention. The drug coating is given to about half of all angioplasty patients.      

With 6 interventional cardiologists, 3of which are bilingual, and staff working year round, Paddock's department is a busy one, seeing more than 4,000 patients a year, with 1,600 of those having arteries unblocked.

Paddock says interventional cardiology will continue to strive for excellence in care. "While it's hard to predict where the future will take us," he notes, "we will continue to make a major difference in the quality of life of New Brunswickers."

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