NorthBay Healthcare has launched another chapter in bringing advanced cardiovascular medicine to Solano County. Coronary artery disease is being treated non-surgically, utilizing advanced procedures to “open” blocked arteries that supply blood to the heart. Percutaneous Coronary Intervention, otherwise known as “PCI,” is now being performed in NorthBay Medical Center’s $3.6 million, state-of-the-art Cardiac Catheterization Lab.
These advanced procedures allow cardiologists to open blocked arteries following heart attacks or to unblock narrow arteries, helping to prevent a future heart attack. Experienced interventional cardiologists such as Gurinder Dhillon, M.D., Cryus Mancherje; M.D., and Harry Dassah, M.D.; bring a vast amount of knowledge and experience to NorthBay’s program. Also participating in the development of this program were cardiologists Milind Dhond, M.D.; Jeffrey Breneisen, M.D.; the East Bay Cardiology Group, Cardiology Consultants of Napa Valley and Napa Valley Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery Group.
“When a patient arrives at NorthBay Medical Center, our goal is to use PCI to unblock and restore blood flow to the heart,” says Terri Bartoli, RN, RCIS, Cath Lab clinical coordinator. It is estimated that each year local cardiologists send out more than 800 PCI cases to medical centers outside Solano County. Now many local residents can receive this advanced cardiac care in Fairfield.
There are several different types of coronary interventions that can now be performed to address a variety of conditions. These procedures are all done in a non-surgical fashion, utilizing a small catheter that is inserted into an artery in the groin. Then a small wire is fed through these catheters to the area of concern. Once the problem area has been isolated, a catheter with a small balloon is fed over that wire and placed in the narrowed artery.
Balloon in the artery
A balloon is then inflated, pushing against the fatty plaque, stretching and reopening the closed vessel, and re-establishing blood flow to the heart. If the balloon isn’t enough to hold open the vessel, a stent can be placed in the vessel. Stents are small, mesh-like tubes made of steel that work like scaffolding. They are placed in the vessel and hold open the narrowed section.
Balloon forcing open artery
Unlike balloons, stents, pictured below, are permanently left in the body. Because they are permanent, patients may be required to take a medication to assure that the stent does not get clogged up with plaque and again reduce blood flow to the heart, possibly causing another heart attack.
Stent placed to hold open artery
“With advanced technology, experienced cardiologists, and a highly-trained staff, NorthBay is profoundly changing the way heart attack patients are treated here in Solano County,” says Bartoli. “Furthermore, we’ll save more lives and reduce the long-term effects of heart disease in our communities, keeping advanced medicine with compassionate care close to home.”