New Surgical Procedure Provides Help For Patients With Heart Failure - Adventist HealthCare

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News Release

Media Contact: Tom Grant

Published on January 17, 2003

Press Release

New Surgical Procedure Provides Help For Patients With Heart Failure

Procedure Performed at Washington Adventist Hospital on 58-year-old Patient

Takoma Park, MD - A new heart surgery procedure provides an important treatment option for patients who suffer from heart failure, a progressive condition in which the heart's muscle becomes weakened after a heart attack.

The surgery, known as the Dor Procedure, was performed successfully on a 58-year-old patient at Washington Adventist Hospital in a case believed to be the first of its kind in Maryland and the Washington, DC metropolitan region. The patient had severe heart failure after suffering a massive heart attack.

Heart failure affects nearly 5 million Americans and is the only major cardiovascular disorder on the rise, according to the Heart Failure Society of America. Some 400,000 to 700,000 new cases of heart failure are diagnosed annually and the number of deaths from this condition has more than doubled since 1979 to approximately 250,000 people each year.

The heart of patients with this condition gradually becomes enlarged and weakened to the point where the muscle is not pumping enough blood to meet the body's needs. This leaves patients short of breath, weak, with swelling of the body from fluid retention and often unable to walk without extreme discomfort.

Salim Aziz, M.D., a board-certified cardio-thoracic surgeon with 18 years of transplant and heart surgery experience, performed the surgery at Washington Adventist Hospital. During the procedure, Dr. Aziz opened the weakened enlarged heart, namely a portion of the left ventricle then placed a patch of bovine pericardium (2-3 inches in diameter) to re-model that side of the heart. The portion of the left ventricle that was cut is then placed over top of the patch.

The placement of the patch reshapes the heart allowing it to contract more efficiently in pumping blood around the body. In essence the heart becomes a better pump.

"Patients with heart failure have a significantly diminished quality of life and this procedure provides a new option for restoring these individuals to a more healthy, active lifestyle," said Dr. Aziz. "The three-year survival rate with the Dor Procedure is about 90 percent whereas less than half of patients survive five years after their initial diagnosis. One of the challenges we face is that relatively few patients and physicians are aware that this treatment option exists."

Although many advances have been made in medications for heart failure, once terminal heart failure occurs a surgical option must be found. Until very recently the main surgical options for end-stage heart failure were either heart transplantation or artificial hearts. Both of these options are not suitable or available for the vast majority of patients with heart failure.

The patient who received the procedure at Washington Adventist Hospital had suffered a heart attack 10 months prior. His condition deteriorated and other treatment options proved ineffective. Prior to having the surgery, he was unable to walk without assistance and speaking took major effort. Now he is able to walk on his own and is recovering well.

Washington Adventist Hospital is a regional center for cardiology diagnosis, intervention, rehabilitation and prevention. The hospital performs some 800 open-heart surgery procedures and approximately 6,400 heart catheterizations and angioplasties each year. Recently, the hospital established the Center for Cardiac and Vascular Research (CCVR) to coordinate and expand the hospital's involvement in cardiac research.

Washington Adventist Hospital is located off of University Boulevard in Takoma Park, Maryland. In addition to cardiology services, the hospital offers emergency medical care, maternity services, mental health services, radiation oncology, and many other services. Washington Adventist Hospital is affiliated with the Adventist HealthCare system.

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