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Care closer to home for heart patients

Posted Feb 19th, 2020

Care closer to home for heart patients

It’s another example of care closer to home for Niagara residents.

As of January, patients on blood thinners who require a cardiac angiogram no longer have to travel outside of Niagara for care.

Previously, these patients – about 250 a year in Niagara -- had to travel to Hamilton for both the pre-procedure appointment with a thrombosis team and the angiogram.

Members of the thrombosis team, who provide care for the prevention and treatment of blood clots and for anticoagulation (blood thinner) issues, help patients manage their blood thinners to maximize their safety for the procedure.  

Now, all of that can be done in Niagara after Niagara Health’s Heart Investigation Unit (HIU) collaborated with the NH Thrombosis Clinic, both based at the St. Catharines Site, to create the opportunity.

Patients on blood thinners now see the Niagara Health HIU and Thrombosis Clinic teams prior to their procedure. They then return about a week later for the angiogram at the HIU.

This is another advancement for NH’s cardiology program, which has made great strides over the past several years to become a comprehensive regional program.

When the 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.

In 2018, Niagara Health began offering an innovative service for lower-risk patients. Coronary computed tomography angiography (CTA) is a noninvasive heart-imaging test. High-resolution, three-dimensional pictures of the moving heart and vessels are produced during a coronary CTA to determine if the arteries that supply blood to the heart are narrowed or blocked.

The program also continues to have great success in recruiting cardiologists to Niagara. One of our recent recruits, Dr. Natalia Pinilla, is leading new cardiology research opportunities at NH to improve patient care. (Stay tuned for more about that.) 

Niagara Health System