The cardiac care program has made great strides over the past several years to develop a comprehensive regional cardiology program in Niagara.
The enhanced services have meant care closer to home for thousands of Niagara heart patients.
When the state-of-the-art Heart Investigation Unit (HIU) opened at our St. Catharines Site in March 2013, it introduced much-needed diagnostic cardiac catheterization services and interventional care to Niagara for the first time. Patients had to travel outside Niagara for such services in the past.
Diagnostic cardiac catheterization enables specialists to diagnose and assess the severity of cardiac disease and evaluate the suitability of a patient for angioplasty, surgery, and other therapy or interventions.
In April 2014, our HIU team started performing percutaneous coronary interventions (PCI) for the first time in Niagara. This non-surgical procedure uses a catheter to insert a small tube-like structure called a stent in blood vessels in the heart that have been narrowed by plaque buildup — a condition known as atherosclerosis.
Heart Function Clinic: Our Heart Function Clinic serves outpatients from across Niagara diagnosed with congestive heart failure, by closely monitoring their condition and managing their symptoms. The goal is to improve stability, avoid hospital admission and improve quality of life. A Nurse Practitioner works both independently and in collaboration with our cardiologists as well as family doctors to manage patients diagnosed with heart failure within the Niagara Community. This provides timely follow-up for patients who are acutely and/or chronically ill with congestive heart failure. This is accomplished through frequent clinic visits, medication adjustments, lab monitoring, telephone counseling, Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) involvement for home monitoring/medications and through providing lifestyle/dietary management techniques.
Cardiac Health and Rehabilitation program: Patients who have recently experienced some kind of cardiac event like a heart attack, angioplasty, are awaiting heart surgery or have angina, congestive heart failure or cardiomyopathy can access the program through a physician referral. The regional program offers a variety of cardiovascular rehabilitation and risk reduction services such as supervised exercise programs, nutrition counselling, stress management and health teaching in both group and individual forums.
The Coronary Care Unit: Patients with a wide variety of cardiac conditions are admitted to this unit. The unit is staffed by Registered Nurses with additional training in cardiology, and resources available from the full health care team. The multidisciplinary team treats patients requiring more intensive coronary care. Cardiologists are available 24 hours per day in this specialized unit.
Cardiac Rapid Assessment Clinic: The clinic was established in June 2012. Cardiologists see approximately six to eight patients in the clinic each day on an urgent basis, usually within two weeks of referral. The focus of the clinic is to prevent unnecessary hospital admission, reduce wait times, investigate patients with new cardiac symptoms in a timely manner and improve overall quality of life for patients with chronic heart conditions. Referrals are accepted from the Emergency Department.