LIMA — As the wife of a heart patient who spent many days and nights in Columbus while her husband was being treated, Pamela Gardner knows the hassle, inconvenience and cost.
As a heart doctor at Lima Memorial Health System, Dr. Gardner is dedicated to bringing more procedures to help patients remain local so they and their families do not have to go through what she and her husband endured.
“We work very hard at bringing as much of it here as we can do to make it easier on the patients and easier on the families. They already have the medical bills,” Gardner said.
Gardner was one of the featured speakers at the first-ever 2016 Heart Summit at Lima Memorial, which also featured heart doctors and surgeons from the Ross Heart Hospital at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
Coming to Lima soon is aortic valve replacement by using catheters in veins. A procedure called Watchman, which also is through vein catheters and places a covering over an appendage in the left atrium, which can lead to blood clots for patients with atrial fibrillation, she said.
The Watchman procedure covers the appendage to prevent blood clots and with the chance to eventually get the patient off blood thinners, she said.
The hope was to have up to 40 people interested in the summit but that was blown away with 160 people signing up to attend from as far away as Columbus and Fort Wayne, Indiana. Various health care providers, from family doctors, nurses, cardiologists and EMS personnel, were on hand to hear about the latest and greatest techniques and surgery.
Dr. Gregory Rushing, a heart surgeon at the Ross Heart Hospital, told the group about a form of ablation he does on the outside of the heart through a small incision beneath the breast bone. The first type of ablation was done using catheters in the vein to enter the heart to place pinpoint burns on bad electrical pathways in the heart that causes arrhythmias such as atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation is where the atrium vibrates but does not squeeze the blood into the ventricles, rather it falls by gravity making the heart a lot less efficient and increases dramatically the chance of developing a potentially fatal blood clot.
The procedure Rushing is performing is ablation on the outside of the heart. The success rate for atrial fibrillation patients six years out is 85 percent compared to 65 percent to 70 percent for the internal ablation, he said.
“We can cover a larger area of the heart,” he said.
Rushing said he is seeing a lot more people with arrhythmias for various reasons. Heart valve problems can cause the irregular heartbeat. Some people, such as endurance athletes, are prone to heart arrhythmias but doctors have not figured out why, he said.
Gardner said she treats patients of all ages for heart failure, from women in their 20s who just gave birth to people who became sick with a virus that caused heart failure. She said this summit and advances in medicine are making treatment more successful and giving people a better quality of life with heart problems, all in Lima.
Reach Greg Sowinski at 567-242-0464 or on Twitter @Lima_Sowinski.