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Brookwood Baptist to Spend $12 Million on Cardiac Unit, continued from page 1 Renovating about 1,050 square feet, this Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) Center now utilizes the latest in Siemens equipment, including the C-arm mounted Artis zee with Pure x-imaging system. “The technology for and the treatment of AFib has accelerated in recent years,” Russ Ronson, MD says Russ Ronson, MD, chief of staff and director of cardiothoracic surgery at Brookwood Baptist. “AFib affects millions of Americans. With the substantial improvement in the technology, we felt that to be in the forefront of this disease, we needed the latest technology that has proven to be successful.” These advances have led to greater certainty in accessing parts of the heart, notably the left atrium. “It used to be difficult to reach the left atrium and when you got there, there was no way to find where the AFib was coming from,” Ronson says. Now the newer tech lends greater definition, along with color, to the blood vessels and walls, making it safe to work in that afflicted area.” Ronson estimates that initial success rates in procedures—depending on the location of the AFib—have shot up from 40 to 60 percent to around 80 percent in certain types of AFib. “In the past, a lot of patients would need to come back for

a second and third procedure,” he says. “But now that is much rarer due to the technology and what we’ve learned about who the tech will benefit.” Next spring, Brookwood Baptist plans to unveil the final part of their major investment. Three cardiac catheterization labs will replace older ones, and include six adjacent patient prep and seven patient recovery bays, along with a registration area. “It’s been a busy cath lab, and they have served our purposes well. But with three newer labs, we can take on more challenging cases in a safer fashion— blockages that we otherwise might have shied away from because we didn’t have the visualization capabilities,” Cox says. To understand the improvement in monitors in the last few years, Cox says to think of your flat-screen TV five years ago. “You can be blown away by the quality now,” he says, adding that the more vibrant color on the new equipment will also up the cardiac options. “You’ll be able to see the colors of the valve and what the valve is doing when you’re working on it. It will be markedly improved.” Procedures, like implanting a Watchman Device to avoid clots in those diagnosed with AFib or implanting the MitraClip, a device to treat mitral valve regurgitation in patients not eligible for open-heart surgery, have become a safer option, especially for elderly patients, who Cox says will benefit the most from these advancements.

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“It used to be that you would do a cath on someone at 86 in all sorts of chest pain,” Cox says, because of not wanting to perform open surgery at that age. “Now we have more advanced surgeries to open up their coronary occluded vessels. We’re getting more aggressive in elderly patients, that’s one of the drivers for this investment.” Additional advantages of the new tech include lowering the x-ray dose needed in procedures. “That’s a tremendous accomplishment,” Cox says. “Any time you can do more complex cases and use a lower dose, that’s safer for the patient.” So is the relocation of the new cath

labs. “All of interventional cardio in our cath lab is one focused unit and will be right next to the ER,” Cox says. “Heart attack patients will not have to take a long elevator ride to the cath lab. They’ll go right across the hall from the ER to the cath lab. I don’t think there’s a hospital in Birmingham that has that.” For Ronson, the most impressive outcome of this major investment is the complete comprehensiveness for cardiac diagnosis and treatment. “From the minute you walk in, you can get everything done here,” he says. “And with the availability of the newest technology, it’s safer than ever before.”

Safe and Effective Vaccines, continued from page 1 she says. “Vaccinations have prevented people from developing illnesses and the complications from those diseases, which can include death. Vaccines are a preventive measure, and we all know that prevention of any disease is superior to treatment.” There are many vaccine-preventable diseases. The common ones include diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, hepatitis A and B, measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, rotovirus, Hemophilus influenza type B, pneumococcal, HPV, meningococcal, and polio. Other vaccines for international travel include yellow fever and typhoid. Too often, professionals in the CDC learn of people who suffer from illness and disability from infectious, yet preventable, diseases. They also see families who mourn the loss of a loved one from an illness that could have been prevented through vaccination. Healthcare professionals who work in Disease Control are concerned about the anti-vaccine movement because vaccines save lives. Anti-vaccine proponents are concerned that the MMR (mumps, measles, rubella) vaccine is linked to autism. That fear originated with a 1997 study published by Andrew Wakefield, a British surgeon, who suggested that the MMR vaccine was causing autism in British children. His paper has since been discredited by a number of sources. “More recent scientific evidence has proven that that MMR is not linked to autism and that claim has been retracted, yet this information still persists in the understanding of some people,” Landers says. “It is important that we continue to look at the science on that.” She adds that there also are worries about certain products contained in some vaccines. “There are concerns related to

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thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative,” Landers says. “The fact is that there hasn’t been any thimerosal in vaccines in many years. The benefit of vaccines far outweigh the negligible risks.” Anti-vaccine proponents also believe that infant immune systems can’t handle all the vaccines that are administered during early life. Paul Offit, MD, Director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia says that 20 years ago children received seven vaccines routinely and up to five shots by two years of age. “Today, children receive 11 vaccines routinely and as many as 20 shots by age two,” he says. “The infant immune system has an enormous capacity to respond safely to immune system changes from vaccines. We can offer reassurance to parents that far from weakening an infant’s immune system, vaccines actually strengthen an infant’s defenses against serious and potentially fatal infections.” ADPH works diligently to combat erroneous information about vaccines. It provides scientific information to the lay public related to their safety and effectiveness. “If you look at our data, Alabama is still a highly vaccinated state which is good. It means that parents and guardians are taking advantage of educational information and are making good decisions for our children,” Landers says. “I’m concerned that if health care providers whether it be physicians, nurses, pharmacists or others - don’t continue to provide educational material and scientific information, people are going to continue to withhold vaccines from children.” Both Landers and Offit worry that children may not get protection from vaccine-preventable diseases because of erroneous information. They state, unequivocally, that vaccinations work. “Immunizations are extremely safe and highly effective at preventing disease and death. Vaccination is one of the most important steps parents can take to protect their children,” Offit says. “We can reassure parents that by immunizing their infants, they are affording them maximum protection against serious infectious diseases with minimum risk, helping their immune systems to become stronger and giving them the healthiest possible start in life.”

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June 2019 BMN  

Birmingham Medical News June 2019

June 2019 BMN  

Birmingham Medical News June 2019