AAMC Performs Primary Angioplasty In Research Project
As part of a research project under a waiver by the State of Maryland Health Care Commission, interventional cardiologists at Anne Arundel Medical Center are performing primary angioplasty on patients in the early stages of a heart attack. Marco Mejia, M.D.; John Altschuler, M.D.; Hector Collison, M.D., and Robert Lager, M.D., head up a team of AAMC medical professionals who have been specially trained to perform the life-saving procedure. The team is comprised of selected staff in the Emergency Department, the Catherization Lab and the Critical Care Unit.
“Being able to offer this highly effective treatment means we are better equipped to save the lives of heart attack patients who come to our Emergency Department,” said Dr. Mitchell Schwartz, director of AAMC’s medical services.
Dr. Schwartz said that patients eligible for emergency angioplasty have had chest pain for durations ranging from 30 minutes to 12 hours and must agree to participate in the data collection phase of the procedure.
While angioplasty is used routinely to treat people with known coronary disease, using it in emergency situations in hospitals without open-heart surgical capabilities is the focus of the research project. Anne Arundel Medical Center is one of several hospitals that have been accepted into the project.
“It’s a major victory for patients in this community to have emergency angioplasty available to them. It has always been clear as far as outcomes are concerned that angioplasty has better results than clot dissolving therapy,” said Dr. Mejia, who completed a Cardiology Fellowship and Interventional Cardiology Fellowship at The Johns Hopkins University Hospital and is director of AAMC’s Cardiac Catherization Lab. “The question had been whether it could be done safely without surgical backup. It has recently been shown that it can be done safely—and that more patients benefit from this advantage,” he said.
Val Strickroth, R.T., supervisor of Cardiac Catherization and Interventional Radiology, said she is excited about AAMC being able to offer primary angioplasty to patients. “Our Emergency Department already moves swiftly when we receive heart attack victims,” she said. “An initial assessment of the patient determines whether he or she is a candidate for angioplasty. If so, the cardiac cath team will be deployed. In a very short time we can have the patient ready for the procedure, which usually takes about 20 minutes. The time constraints are tough – but when you remember ‘time is muscle’ it motivates you to rise to the occasion for the patient.”