University Hospital Sharjah (UHS) has opened a new Interventional Cardiology Centre including the latest bi-plane catherisation laboratory (cath lab), to treat the growing number of patients admitted with heart disease.
A cath lab is an examination room that has diagnostic imaging equipment that can visualise the arteries and the chambers of the heart, and treat any abnormalities that are found. The new lab has been equipped with the latest facilities available to diagnose and treat patients.
H.E. Abdulla Ali Al Mahyan, Chairman of Board of Trustees, UHS, said: “Under the leadership and continuous support of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, this is an exciting development for UHS that provides the residents of UAE with the most up-to-date facilities and expertise to treat coronary and other diseases of the heart”.
Interventional cardiology is a branch of cardiology that deals specifically with the catheter and STENT based treatment of structural heart disease. It involves using sophisticated x-ray equipment to specially look for blocked or narrow arteries which can cause chest pain or heart attack. The main advantages of using the interventional cardiology approach are the avoidance of the scars and pain associated with Cardiac Surgery and long post-operative recovery.
Michael Stroud, CEO of UHS, said: “Using this innovative procedure, we can make major strides to curtail the damage done by heart diseases in the UAE, particularly to younger people. Early detection of abnormalities and treatment is the most effective way to prevent severe problems in the long term.
The Interventional Cardiology procedure of Primary Angioplasty is now the gold standard for the management of acute myocardial infarction. It involves the uses of a balloon catheter to widen a blocked or narrowed artery and then inserting a STENT to keep the coronary artery open. Narrowed arteries produce ischemia, causing the chest pain called Angina, which if not treated can lead to heart attack.
Dr Ousama Mahdi, Senior Consultant Interventional Cardiology, has extensive experience in this field. He has conducted more than 20,000 procedures on patients with various heart diseases. “About 60 percent of patients can return home on the same day following the procedure,” he said.
UHS admits patients with heart disease nearly every day. Dr Mahdi said he had received 10 cases of heart disease from the outpatient clinic within two weeks of joining the hospital.
Heart disease is a major cause of death across the globe today, and typically affects older people. In the UAE, however, expatriates from South-Asia are prone to heart disease and heart attacks at a much younger age due to genetic factors, Dr Mahdi warned. The average global age at which heart disease strikes is 65; in the UAE, the average is at least a decade earlier.
While men are more prone to heart disease, the incidence of women suffering heart attacks rises after menopause, Dr Mahdi noted.
He advises that anyone suffering from chest pain for the first time, particularly those who sweat profusely, must immediately be admitted for a check-up. “It is not a good sign and can be a critical situation,” he said, noting that some people ignore the symptoms as simply a bad case of indigestion.
A main risk factor for heart disease is stress, which is potentially deadly, Dr Mahdi said. Other risk factors include diabetes, hypertension (high Blood Pressure, BP), obesity, smoking, high cholesterol (that builds up plaque and blocks arteries), a lack of exercise, and unhealthy eating habits, such as overconsumption of fatty foods.
Dr Mahdi emphasises that good habits need to be engrained at an early age. “Children should be taught to eat healthy foods, play sports, and go to bed early to get a sufficient amount of sleep,” he said. He added that people with high risk factors, such as those with borderline high BP and pre-diabetics, should in particular be given advice on how to avoid heart disease.