Cardiovascular disease reaching “epidemic proportions” in SA
New cardiovascular facility available to communities of the Cape West Coast
Cardiovascular disease is on the increase around the world and remains the leading cause of death for both men and women. The rise in prevalence of this dangerous medical condition has largely been attributed to the adoption of increasingly unhealthy, sedentary lifestyles including poor diets.
This is according to interventional cardiologist Dr Jan-Peter Smedema, who practises at Netcare Blaauwberg Hospital in Cape Town. “Fortunately, medical technology has advanced in leaps and bounds in recent years enabling cardiovascular conditions which may be life-threatening to not only be identified earlier, but also to be more safely and successfully treated than in the past,” adds Dr Smedema
The general manager of Netcare Blaauwberg Hospital, Dirk Truter, says that a rapidly growing community on the Cape West Coast and an increased demand for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases have been the major impetuses behind the development of a state-of-the-art new cardiac catheterisation and vascular laboratory at Netcare Blaauwberg Hospital.
“The cutting edge catheterisation laboratory enhances the range of cardiovascular services our specialists are able to provide to our patients including those from Durbanville, Table View and the Cape West Coast.”
Truter explains that sophisticated diagnostic imaging equipment is used in the cardiac catheterisation laboratory by cardiovascular specialists to visualise the interior of the arteries in order to precisely determine the extent of blockages and disease in these vessels. They then use these technologies to guide life-saving minimally invasive procedures for cardiovascular conditions, which previously could only be treated through open-heart surgery.
“The new cardiac catheterisation laboratory which was opened in February of this year forms part of Netcare Blaauwberg Hospital’s cardiovascular centre which offers a full range of 24-hour cardiovascular services to the community.
“Other facilities in the centre include a coronary care unit and intensive care unit. The cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons practising at the hospital can undertake coronary angiograms, angioplasties and stent insertions, and perform coronary bypass or valve surgeries.”
Dr Smedema welcomed the development of the cardiac catheterisation laboratory at Netcare Blaauwberg Hospital, saying that not only does the it enable cardiovascular disease to be more accurately assessed and diagnosed, but also for highly intricate catheter-based procedures to be performed.
“These procedures have numerous advantages over traditional open surgery, including the fact that they require only a small incision to be made in the skin. A thin tube called a catheter is advanced through the incision to the site that requires assessment and/or treatment. Cardiologists for example use the catheter to guide a stent, a small mesh tube, to the site of a blocked artery and placing the stent in position to hold open the vessel and restore or improve blood flow.”
“The fact that these procedures can be performed through just a small puncture in the skin, means that they are less risky for patients, who invariably recover much sooner than they do from open surgery. In fact, in many cases, patients are able to go home just a few hours after the procedure. A further advantage is that, in some cases, the cardiologists can successfully treat patients who would otherwise have been considered too weak and high risk to survive traditional open surgery.”
Truter says Netcare Blaauwberg Hospital’s catheterisation laboratory has been equipped with the advanced Siemens Artis Zee X-Ray equipment. “Using this technology, Dr Smedema has been able to pioneer radial angioplasty in South Africa, which involves procedures being undertaken through the wrist artery rather than through the groin in appropriate patients. This approach further improves safety and reduces patient recovery times,” he concludes.
Patients whose clinical profile allows radial angioplasty can be treated as day patients in the radial lounge area that has been established in the day ward at Netcare Blaauwberg Hospital. The radial lounge has been set-up with patient safety and comfort in mind.