Patients Benefit From Advances in Cardiovascular Care
Comprehensive Cardiovascular Care
There is strong evidence indicating that patients who are prescribed aspirin, beta-blockers and/or ACE inhibitors following a heart attack have a reduced chance of recurrence. Upon discharge, Virginia Mason physicians prescribe aspirin, beta-blockers and/or ACE inhibitors to 92 to 96 percent of appropriate cardiology patients, far above the national average.
Cardiac Catheter Intervention
Virginia Mason patient outcomes from angioplasty, stent placement and atherectomy, all non-surgical procedures to improve coronary blood flow, are significantly better than the national average. Virginia Mason has far fewer in-lab complications from these procedures.
Studies have shown that institutions performing more than 400 coronary catheter intervention cases each year have low complication rates. Virginia Mason physicians perform more than 850 coronary interventions each year, making Virginia Mason one of the highest volume providers in the Seattle area, according to the results of a survey conducted in association with The Leapfrog Group.
The Leapfrog Group is a national group of organizations whose goal is to work with health care providers to identify and encourage medical practices that improve patient safety.
Endoscopic Vein Harvesting
Endoscopic vein harvesting is performed routinely at Virginia Mason, and the medical center is a regional leader in this procedure. Endoscopic vein harvesting involves the removal of a leg vein for bypass to the heart and is done through very minimal incisions. Traditionally, leg incisions were made that were the length of the vein segment required. For many patients, discomfort from the leg incisions exceeded that from the chest incision. The use of this endoscopic procedure has resulted in less leg pain, faster patient recovery and improved cosmetic results.
Valvular Heart Surgery
Forty percent of the cardiac operations at Virginia Mason are for valvular heart disease. These include, bioprosthetic and mechanical heart valve replacement, homograft aortic valve replacement for complex endocarditis, composite replacement of the ascending aorta and aortic valve for Marfans’s syndrome and related conditions, and repair of the mitral valve, which is an area of particular expertise at Virginia Mason.
Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States. Cardio-embolic strokes, blood clots that travel from the heart to an artery supplying the brain, account for up to 30 percent of all strokes. An effective treatment for patients who have had this type of stroke is long-term oral anticoagulation therapy, also known as blood thinners. However, oral anticoagulation therapy is associated with high bleeding risks.
In 1992, Virginia Mason’s incidence of baseline major bleeding (5 percent per year) and stroke (3 percent per year) on oral anticoagulation therapy matched the national average. Convinced that these complication rates could be reduced, we created the Anticoagulation Clinic at Virginia Mason. As of early 2005, the clinic has cared for more than 5000 patients through a total of more than 10,000 patient years of oral anticoagulation therapy. Virginia Mason has demonstrated remarkable safety and efficacy in dealing with anticoagulation therapy.
The Anticoagulation Clinic includes nurses and pharmacists who work with patients through the use of a sophisticated computer database and information tracking system developed at Virginia Mason. Specific guidelines are used for the treatment of patients undergoing anticoagulation therapy. Since its inception, our model has been adapted and copied both regionally and in British Columbia, based on our published data. Additionally, in 2003, the Anticoagulation Clinic was the recognized by the American Medical Group Association (MGMA) with its prestigious “Models of Excellence” award.
Patients treated with oral anticoagulation therapy at Virginia Mason have up to a 70 percent lower risk of stroke compared to published benchmarks. Similarly, major bleeding is 60 percent lower at Virginia Mason as compared to community private practice.
The electrophysiologists at Virginia Mason have had an advanced catheter ablation program for many years. They have been pioneers in ablation for atrial fibrillation for the past several years and have the most experienced program in the Northwest. Advanced technology capable of computerized single beat arrythmias or mapping is now available.
The management of heart failure and arrythmias at Virginia Mason includes ablation and device treatments. The Congestive Heart Failure Clinic and the electrophysiologists work hand in hand to manage complex congestive heart failure patients with advanced procedures and implantable cardiac defibrillators capable of improving heart function and saving lives.