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Cardiac Services

Collaboration, enhanced care at heart of cardiac program

New to Niagara: Percutaneous Coronary Intervention 

Partnership with Hamilton Health Sciences

Comprehensive cardiac care  




Collaboration, enhanced care at heart of cardiac program

The cardiac care program has made great strides over the past several years to develop a comprehensive regional cardiology program in Niagara.

“In addition to enhancing services and infrastructure over the last several years, we have recently tripled the number of cardiologists on the team,” says Dr. Sven Pallie, Regional Chief of Cardiology. “We are well positioned to respond to the growing and complex needs of our patients with a range of cardiac services.”

Partnership is at the heart of Niagara’s comprehensive cardiology program, giving cardiac patients from across the region access to enhanced care closer to home.

A key feature of the Niagara Health System’s recently opened St. Catharines Site is the state-of-the-art Heart Investigation Unit (HIU), which has introduced much-needed diagnostic cardiac catheterization services and interventional care to the region for first time.

Until the 7,000-square-foot HIU opened its doors with the hospital in March 2013, all cardiac catheterization procedures were performed at Hamilton General Hospital’s Heart Investigation Unit.

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. Back to top

New to Niagara: Percutaneous Coronary Intervention

In addition to introducing this procedure, the HIU team recently began performing a vital service called Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI) in Niagara for the first time. 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. PCI opens up the blood vessels and improves blood flow. It also decreases heart-related chest pain (angina), makes patients feel better and increases their ability to be active.

The HIU team expects to carry out the procedure for more than 540 patients in 2014/2015. Previously patients requiring PCI had to travel outside Niagara for care. 

The introduction of PCI is a huge leap in as we continue to evolve and develop comprehensive cardiac services for the residents of Niagara. Back to top

Partnership with Hamilton Health Sciences

The HIU brings together specialists in Niagara and Hamilton through a partnership with Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) enabling the hospital to provide quality, safe, expert care closer to home. The two organizations have committed to a vision of one regional and integrated program delivered at two sites.

“The integration and the collaboration of the two systems in Hamilton and Niagara allows for best care and safe quality care to be provided in the region,” says Dr. Madhu Natarajan, Director of the Hamilton-Niagara Heart Investigation Unit.

While many patients will now be able to receive care in Niagara, in some instances, patients with more complex needs, will continue to go to Hamilton for services. This model is in keeping with our Local Health Integration Network’s goal of access to quality, safe care closer to home and is part of the LHIN’s larger plan to create a regional system of care across the Hamilton, Brant, Burlington and Niagara communities.

“Patients can be confident that when they’re coming to St. Catharines to have an angiogram or other services that they’re going to be getting the best services possible,” says Dr. Natarajan.

By increasing the capacity in Niagara, the NHS anticipates improved outcomes for our patients needing cardiac catheterization and interventional care. Back to top

Comprehensive cardiac care

Our Heart Function Clinic helps outpatients from across Niagara who are diagnosed with congestive heart failure, by closely monitoring their condition and managing their symptoms. The goal is to improve quality of life. A multi-disciplinary team of healthcare practitioners works together to provide care to patients in a variety of areas, including assessment, monitoring and treatment; pharmacological management; patient and caregiver education in such areas as medication, exercise, smoking cessation; and dietary education.

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 Cardiac Health and Rehabilitation program through a physician referral. This regional program offers a variety of cardiovascular rehabilitation and risk reduction services such as; supervised exercise programs, nutrition counseling, stress management, smoking cessation and health teaching in both group and individual forum.

Other recent enhancements to our cardiac services include the Coronary Care Unit, which was created by the Department of Medicine in June 2012. Cardiologists treat patients admitted to the Coronary Care Unit and also provide care to patients in other areas of the hospital.

A Cardiac Rapid Assessment Clinic was also established in June 2012. Cardiologists see approximately six to eight patients in this clinic each day. The focus of this clinic is to prevent hospital admission, shorten length of admissions for patients who are admitted, reduce wait times, and improve overall quality of life for patients with chronic heart conditions. Back to top