A team of cardiologists associated with Bakersfield Heart Hospitals Structural Heart Program have announcedthe addition oftechnologies and procedures that are expanding options locally for minimally invasive alternatives to open heart surgery.
The team, led by Dr. Saibal Kar, interventional cardiologist and medical director for the hospitals Structural Heart Program, discussed the expanding palette of procedures at a press conference Thursday held at the local hospital.
"This is the beginning of a great success story," Kar told a group of journalists, as well as several physicians and hospital staff who gathered for the event.
Kar,whose resume is long and impressive, is also director of structural heart disease interventions at Los Robles Regional Medical Center in Los Angeles. He has established similar programs in Australia, Israel, Japan and a number of other locations around the world.
Heart Hospital CEO Michelle Oxford introduced Kar as a "preeminent physician" who is leading a transformation that will benefit local patients who otherwise would have to travel to cities like San Francisco or Los Angeles to undergo theseminimally invasive procedures.
"We are very lucky to have Dr. Kar with us,"Oxford said.
The new procedures include the MitraClip mitral valve repair. The mitral valve acts as a one-way gate between the upper and lower chambers of the left side of the heart. When the mitral valve leaks, it causes a backward flow of fluid in the heart. Common symptoms include severe tiredness, shortness of breath with activities previously completed with ease, shortness of breath when you lie down, dizziness, cough, and/or swollen legs or feet.
Bakersfield Heart Hospital is using a catheter-based delivery system a small puncture is made in the groin to allow the catheter to go up into the heart. The procedure involves placing the clip on the mitral valve via the catheter. The procedure has a 95 percent success rate nationwide, Kar said. And most patients are home in one or two days.
Bakersfield Heart Hospital is the first hospital in Kern County to introduce the procedure, said Oxford.
Minimally invasive procedures involve entering the patients heart through an artery in the leg or arm instead of cracking open the chest to correct life-threatening heart conditions. These conditions usually involve an abnormality in the heart that does not affect the blood vessels. Structural heart diseases can be diagnosed at birth or occur later in life due to aging, infection or related conditions, according to the hospital's website.
Other procedures include:
Trans-catheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) for severe aortic stenosis
Closure of Left Atrial Appendage using the WATCHMAN device to reduce stroke risk associated with atrial fibrillation patients unable to take blood-thinners
Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) / Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO) Closures for holes in the heart tissue
"The only skill set you need to do this procedure is you have to be good at video games," Kar said, only half-joking.
Team member Dr. Sarabjeet Singh, who came to Bakersfield Heart Hospital 10 years ago following an interventional cardiology fellowship at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, said there are indeed some parallels to playing a video game and performing the navigation of these procedures in the human body.
But in reality, it's a team approach, he said, in which medical professionals proficient in a variety of skills and modalities come together to obtain the desired outcome. And so far, the progress and success rates have been outstanding.
In the field of minimally invasive cardiac care, this development will place Bakersfield on par with many much larger metropolitan hospitals, Singh said. Helping patients suffering from these illnesses live longer, fuller lives is the ultimate goal.
"This is a great moment for the Central Valley," he said.
Steven Mayer can be reached at 661-395-7353. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter: @semayerTBC.
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