Tag Archives: Cardiology

Watch: WJBF EXTRA “Inside Heart Health”

After taking viewers inside the operating room for heart surgery with Drs. Vijay Patel and Vinayak Kamath a few weeks ago, WJBF News Channel 6 Reporter Renetta Dubose talks with three heart patients about their diagnoses and treatments.

Patient Nancy Payne of North Augusta shares her story and invited Dubose to see her session in GRHealth Cardiac Rehab.

Watch Part 1 of this heart health special report in the GReport on March 17.

Watch: TV crew films heart surgery

Check out this WJBF-TV News Channel 6 feature story: An Augusta man with no symptoms ended up having five bypasses during open-heart surgery.

Following a routine checkup, Wayne Curtis was sent for a stress test and then a heart catheterization, which revealed three blocked arteries that needed repair.  However, once in surgery, Drs. Vinayak Kamath and Vijay Patel discovered two additional blockages and performed a quintuple bypass surgery on Curtis.

WJBF was in the Operating Room during the surgery and interviewed Curtis about three weeks later at his follow-up appointment at the GRHealth Cardiovascular Center.

GRHealth awarded for safety, quality in heart surgery

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Georgia Regents Medical Center has earned a statewide award for enhancing cardiac care from the Partnership for Health and Accountability, an affiliate of the Georgia Hospital Association. GRHealth earned third place among Georgia hospitals with more than 300 beds for successfully managing blood sugar levels in heart surgery patients.

PHA’s annual Quality and Safety Awards recognize Georgia health care organizations for achievements in reducing the risk of medical errors and improving patient safety and medical outcomes.

“We are honored to have been chosen for another PHA award at GRHealth. We are always looking for ways to advance the care we provide to our patients and families,” said Dr. Kevin C. Dellsperger, Vice President and Chief Medical Officer.

Research has shown that people whose sugars are not well managed after surgery tend to have higher rates of complications, so GRHealth standardized the management of glucose levels in surgical patients through advanced treatment protocols. This enhanced cardiac care plan requires monitoring blood sugar more frequently; providing more thorough patient education; increasing communication between the operating room and the intensive care unit; and fulfilling all necessary caregiver training.

“By implementing these protocols, we have reduced the risk of wound infections and improved survival in cardiac surgery,” said Dellsperger, a seasoned cardiologist. “We have shown marked improvement in a short period of time.”

Results showed staff compliance for managing glucose levels improved from 31 to 100 percent during surgery and from 82 percent to 100 percent during the post-operative period.

“This demonstrates our commitment to improving quality and safety for our patients.” Furthermore, Dellsperger said the results have relevance across the board for better outcomes.

“Cardiac surgery is life-saving, but it can have potentially life-threatening complications. Proper glucose control ensures patient safety by reducing the risk of these complications,” said Dr. Doug Patten, GHA’s Chief Medical Officer. “We applaud Georgia Regents Medical Center for its success in this area and for its efforts in providing the best and safest care possible to its patients.”

About PHA
The Partnership for Health and Accountability (PHA), an affiliate of GHA, was established in January 2000 to improve patient care and patient safety in hospitals and other health care facilities and create healthy communities.

About GHA
Established in 1929, GHA is the state’s largest trade organization of hospitals and health systems providing education, research and risk management services to its more than 170 hospital and health system members. Additionally, it represents and advocates health policy issues benefiting Georgia’s citizens before the state legislature and U.S. Congress as well as before regulatory bodies.

Doctors lasso piece of the heart to reduce stroke risk in AFib patients

AUGUSTA, Ga. – More than 3 million Americans live with atrial fibrillation, a serious heart rhythm disorder that makes them five times more likely to have a stroke. But doctors at Georgia Regents Medical Center can reduce this risk by using an innovative nonsurgical procedure called the LARIAT Suture Delivery Device to lasso and tie off a pouch-like piece of the heart, blocking stroke-causing blood clots from forming there.

Maddox, William.web“This pouch-like piece attached to the outside of the heart is the left atrial appendage. It’s about the size of the thumb and is the most common location where stroke-causing clots form in AFib patients,” said Dr. William Maddox, a cardiac electrophysiologist at the hospital and an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Georgia Regents University’s Medical College of Georgia. “When a patient has atrial fibrillation, the electrical impulses that control the heartbeat are erratic. These fast, chaotic impulses don’t give the atria time to contract and effectively squeeze blood out of the left atrium and left atrial appendage.”

Because the appendage looks and functions much like a small pouch, blood collects there, where it’s more likely to form clots. If a blood clot breaks free, it can move into and plug a smaller vessel in the brain causing a stroke.

“Research has shown that close to 90 percent of stroke-causing clots come from the left atrial appendage, so, if we can take away this danger, then we can decrease a patient’s stroke risk,” said Maddox.

Patients with atrial fibrillation generally are prescribed blood thinners to prevent clots. But not all patients can tolerate these anticoagulants, which can cause severe bleeding. For these patients, the LARIAT procedure is a more viable option.

Unlike open heart surgery, this procedure is minimally invasive – completed through small punctures in the skin. With the patient under general anesthesia, Maddox guides two catheters into the patient’s heart to seal the left atrial appendage with a pre-tied suture loop that looks like a miniature lasso. Once in place, he pulls back on the LARIAT device to tighten the knot on the tiny string and close off the appendage. Starved of blood, the appendage shrivels into scar tissue.

Only the left atrial appendage is tied off, so the procedure doesn’t affect blood flow to any other part of the heart. The benefits for patients include a shorter procedure and recovery time, less pain, and a low risk of complications.

“It’s just an overnight stay and mild soreness in the chest area with a total recovery in a month for most patients,” said Maddox. “This is truly a simple, one-time solution to a very dangerous health issue.”

Heart Month: Need to Know

Join us for the Heart Walk

Sign up for the AHA Heart Walk today:

March 8, 2014, 8-11 a.m.

Greeneway, North Augusta

The Heart Walk is the American Heart Association’s premiere event for raising funds to save lives from this country’s No. 1 and No. 3 killers — heart disease and stroke. Designed to promote physical activity and heart-healthy living, the Heart Walk creates an environment that’s fun and rewarding for the entire family. Your participation will help us raise even more in our fight to save lives. Walk with friends, family, coworkers, or strangers you’ll bond with along the way. To sign up today, visit csraheartwalk.org and select “Team Georgia Regents.”

Registration Challenge: 

We are issuing a challenge to get team members registered as quickly as possible. Our goal is to register 120 team captains and have 1,200 members recruited. Between now and midnight on February 28, any team captain who registers has two entries in a prize drawing; any regular team member who registers has one entry. The grand prize will be a 60-minute luxurious massage courtesy of Body Flex of Augusta and GRHealth prize package.

T-shirts for Heart Walk:

We are asking all Team Georgia Regents participants to wear the gray “GRHealth Heart and Cardiovascular Services” shirts that were distributed before last year’s walk. If you are a new team or have new members, please contact me at ttodd@gru.edu to collect your shirts. We have a small quantity so please inquire on sizes as soon as possible.

Heart Walk Team Leaders:

An American Heart Association Representative will be in Terrace Dining from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Wednesday to collect team money. If you have money to submit, please write down your team name, the amount, and how to divide it between your team. Team members must be online to get credit for the donation on the website.

Heart Walk Goals and Stats:

Only one week left until the Heart Walk and it’s time to kick our campaign into high gear! Team Georgia Regents set a goal to raise $100,000 and recruit 1,200 members for the walk. We have raised $29,204 and recruited 638 members. Sign up today to help us reach our goals.


The pharmacy team is selling pedometers to promote heart health and raise money for the Heart Walk. Pedometers will be $5 each. They will be sold in Terrace Dining 11 a.m.-1 p.m. March 4, 5, and 6. If you cannot make it at these times and are interested in purchasing a pedometer, contact Jessica at jrichardson@gru.edu.

To submit information for the cardio “Need to Know,” email ttodd@gru.edu.


Atlanta Business Chronicle: Researchers using video to monitor heart rate

Atlanta Business Chronicle: Nov. 8, 2013

Tsien1webfront[1]A video camera paired with complex algorithms appears to provide an accurate means to remotely monitor heart and respiration rates day or night, Georgia Regents University researchers report. The method for monitoring the vital signs without touching a patient could have major implications for telemedicine, including enabling rapid detection of a heart attack or stroke occurring at home and helping avoid sudden infant death syndrome. Read more about Researchers Using Video to Monitor Heart Rate

GRA, MCG Foundation establish Eminent Scholar Chair in Cardiovascular Medicine

NealWeintraubwebDr. Neal L. Weintraub, a cardiologist, federally-funded researcher, and biotech entrepreneur, has been named an Eminent Scholar of the Georgia Research Alliance.

The GRA Eminent Scholar® position is in association with the Herbert S. Kupperman Endowed Chair in Cardiovascular Science.

“We are so appreciative that our colleagues at the GRA and the MCG Foundation have worked closely to maximize the donation and the intent of the Kupperman family to address this major health issue in our state and nation and, ultimately, to provide better care for patients,” said Dr. Peter F. Buckley, MCG Dean. The GRA Eminent Scholar post honors the late 1946 MCG graduate as it supports better understanding and treatment of the number one cause of death in Georgia and the United States, Buckley said.

“As the leading cause of death in America, research and discovery of cardiovascular disease is in great need,” said C. Michael Cassidy, President and CEO of the GRA. “I am proud to welcome Neal Weintraub back to Georgia and we look forward to his continuation of research and clinical advancements.”

“We are extremely pleased to join with the GRA to fight cardiovascular disease and, as is always our purpose, to support the state’s public medical school,” said Dr. James B. Osborne, President and CEO of the MCG Foundation.

Weintraub, Associate Director of MCG’s Vascular Biology Center, comes to MCG from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. He will work to strengthen collaborations between basic scientists and the physicians who treat cardiovascular disease with a goal of generating clinical trials that advance patient care in Georgia and beyond. His clinical and research expertise includes vascular biology and physiology, inflammation, ischemia/reperfusion injury, aortic disease and heart failure.  He also works to increase public awareness of heart conditions such as aortic dissection, a potentially lethal tear in the largest blood vessel in the body, which drew attention when it killed actor John Ritter a decade ago.

Donate to Dunk a Cardiologist

Dunk Tank imageGeorgia Regents Medical Center Heart and Cardiovascular Services will host a Fall Festival on Friday, Oct. 25, from 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. in the Medical Office Building parking lot behind HCCU.

Participants can buy a chance to “dunk” some of the volunteer Cardiology staff including Tod Schnetzler, Dr. John Thornton, and Dr. Adam Berman. Carnival treats and hot dog lunches will be sold. The festival is a fundraiser for the American Heart Association Heart Walk.

For more information, call Shawn Kneece at 706-721-7133.

New technique enables accurate, hands-free measure of heart and respiration rates

Tsien1webfront[1]A simple video camera paired with complex algorithms appears to provide an accurate means to remotely monitor heart and respiration rates day or night, researchers report.

The inexpensive method for monitoring the vital signs without touching a patient could have major implications for telemedicine, including enabling rapid detection of a heart attack or stroke occurring at home and helping avoid sudden infant death syndrome, according to a study published in the journal PLOS ONE.

It also may enable untethered, more realistic monitoring of laboratory animals in scientific research as well as ecological research on wild or endangered animal populations.

“Heart and respiratory rates obviously tell us a lot about how an individual is doing,” said Dr. Joe Tsien, neuroscientist at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University. “Normally, caregivers have to put their hands on a patient to assess these rates. However our algorithms enable us to rapidly and accurately translate, for example, normally imperceptible movement of the skin in rhythm with our breathing into an accurate measure of respiration rate.”

Scientists at MCG and China’s BanNa Biomedical Research Institute already are working to see if the approach can also accurately measure blood pressure.

Tsien, who studies memory, said the algorithms were developed to decipher reams of information generated by his brain-decoding project, which is identifying brain activity patterns that occur, for example, when a mouse forms a memory. In that case, the formulas help him understand what the brain is saying; in this case, they help interpret how the body is doing.

To measure heart rate, this approach takes advantage of the fact that the blood vessels expand and contract with each heartbeat: more blood in the vessels means more camera light is absorbed rather than reflected. Breathing causes a slight body movement that produces varying lengths of reflected light off the moving surface. In fact, Tsien notes, the two rates are closely tied and respiration rate can also be calculated based on heart rate, using his algorithms as well as other methods.

Within a few seconds, the algorithms enable light reflections to be sorted by source so that ambient signals from, say, a fluorescent lamp, can be ignored and distinct numbers can be calculated for heart and respiration rates.

“It lets us pull out only the faint but relevant signal that may be buried under ambient distractions,” Tsien said.

False-positive rates were less than 3 percent and false negatives under 1 percent, indicating the device would be reliable even in rapidly changing scenarios such as a heart attack or stroke.

Measurements were taken multiple times on 15 human subjects, including seven males, eight females and one infant, who were a mix of Caucasians, Asians and blacks. To assess accuracy, heart and respiratory rates were concurrently measured using standard approaches such as an electrocardiogram for the heart and airflow captured by a sensor under the nose while subjects were active and stationary. Similar studies were performed on mice, pigs and zebrafish.

To further assess accuracy, scientists also used the approach on still images such as photographs of humans, a Simpson cartoon character and the Mona Lisa painting. Their system correctly identified all as  inanimate objects. They also applied the technique to television footage of celebrities such as Michael Phelps and President Bill Clinton, and were able to detect varying heart and respiration rates in calm, happy and stressful situations.

Although the researchers used a single-channel camera – which produces images from a single light source – their algorithm can work with any video camera as well as other sensors, such as radio frequency waves, Tsien said. However, the researchers note that a previous attempt by others using a multi-channel camera for remote monitoring did not accurately measure parameters at night and generated significantly more false positives.

Tsien is the Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Cognitive and Systems Neurobiology. GRU Postdoctoral Fellow Fang Zhao is the study’s first author.  GRU has patented the monitoring technique.