One of Cabrini’s great strengths is its cardiac care and now it has opened Cabrini Heart: a grouping of three cardiac therapies: catheterisation, surgery and rehabilitation.
By drawing together these therapeutic services, Cabrini patients will benefit from more streamlined care for their cardiac needs. Leading the service is Director of Cardiology Dr Gautam Vaddadi: he says the group will continue its advanced work at Cabrini, and embrace new and proven treatments.
Cardiac therapies, whether surgical, device-driven or drug-related, have advanced enormously in recent years. “We’ve made great strides forward, especially in diagnostics,” says Dr Vaddadi. “Improved diagnostic testing such as cardiac MRIs and CTs allow for much earlier diagnosis and intervention.”
More treatment options
Minimally invasive surgery has grown exponentially in many specialisations and cardiac surgeons have this option available. Once valve replacement surgery could only be achieved by fully opening the sternum, with the usual hospital stay of seven to ten days. Now, patients can have the valve inserted percutaneously, or through the skin mounted on a catheter.
Called transaortic valve insertion (TAVI), the procedure provides for less pain and chance of infection, as well as significantly less time in surgical theatre and hospital. Cabrini has been a leader in the private health sector in supporting a comprehensive program for this procedure. In the past few weeks, the Federal Government has put these valves on the prosthetics register, meaning that private patients undergoing TAVI will be covered. Until now, Cabrini absorbed much of the costs.
Another growth area is minimally invasive cardiac electrophysiology to treat atrial fibrillation through ablation. This is changing the way specialists manage the dysrhythmia, and many patients undergoing this therapy will walk away without further need for treatment or drugs. Devices such as defibrillators and pacemakers are still essential for many, but these are becoming smaller, more sophisticated, and easier to monitor and even compatible with MRIs. A new drug for heart failure – the first in 15 years – is proving very effective and with Federal Government funding, it is already changing the face of heart failure treatment.
A bright future
The future beckons. On the horizon: immune modulating drugs look promising as treatments for artherosclerotic inflammatory heart disease. While they are not yet available in Australia for cardiac treatment, Dr Vadaddi and his colleagues around the world have watched their progress through trials with growing excitement. In 2016, the leading cause of death in Australia was ischemic heart disease.
Given the vastly improved therapeutic landscape, will cardiac disease decrease as a cause of death? Dr Vaddadi is not so sure: “Not until people get out of their cars and walk or cycle. We need to change the social construct of cities to make that easier. We can diagnose the disease and start therapies earlier, but we have no control over lifestyles.”
For a referral to a Cabrini Heart specialist, please speak to your general practitioner and for more on Cabrini accredited cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons, visit our ‘Find a doctor’ page on our website http://www.cabrini.com.au/find-a-doctor.