Cardiac catheterization labs—or cath labs— allow doctors to place stents in a patient’s cardiovascular system to open blocked passageways and perform other related life-saving procedures. With the help of digital imaging, cardiologists can diagnose problems with blood flow, pressure, and valve function.
During a cardiac emergency, time is muscle. In the past, someone experiencing a cardiac event had to be transferred to other facilities. Now, Hunt Regional will be able to provide care that patients previously experiencing a life-threatening heart attack would have had to travel elsewhere to receive.
To perform a cath, a thin wire is inserted by the physician in an artery or vein in the groin, neck, or arm. The wire catheter is then threaded through blood vessels to the heart. If necessary, a balloon or stent can be placed in those arteries, unblocking them to restore blood flow to the heart to stop a heart attack or alleviate chest pain.
A state-of-the-art imaging machine with a speed of 30–60 frames per second performs the diagnostic imaging required in the lab. The machine can produce images of the five major vessels of the heart, the peripheral arteries, and the extremities. Results allow the physician to formulate an appropriate treatment plan, which may include surgery, medication modification, or angioplasty.
Interventional cardiologists Ahad Hassan, MD, and Robert Belbel, DO, will oversee cath lab operations, along with registered nurses and diagnostic imaging technicians. The lab will provide emergency and interventional coverage 24/7, 365 days a year.
“Our staff has been working for a long time to bring this much-needed, expanded service to our community,” said Hunt Regional CEO, Rich Carter.
“Around-the-clock coverage will allow physicians to get patients the help they need in our hospital immediately and increase the preservation of cardiac function.” he said.
The cath lab will open for patients on June 12. In addition to emergency heart care, scheduling will also begin for expanded cardiovascular services, including pacemaker placement, pressure management, and endomyocardial biopsy. Diagnostic catheterization may be ordered if a screening examination, such as an electrocardiogram, points to the likelihood of an underlying heart condition that needs further evaluation. A doctor also may order the procedure to evaluate blood flow to the heart when pain occurs after a patient experiences a heart attack or if a patient has recently experienced chest pain, fatigue, dizziness, or shortness of breath.
The cath lab is located on the second floor of HRMC. Hunt Regional administrators and Greenville Chamber of Commerce ambassadors will cut the ceremonial ribbon on June 15 at 5 p.m., followed by tours of the cath lab. Refreshments will be served in the hospital’s second floor atrium.