Heart Centre celebrates successful first year

As they celebrate its first birthday, staff in The Heart Centre in the Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle are looking back on a successful first year and looking ahead to an exciting future.

Since the Centre opened its doors to patients on 29 November 2011, over 1600 patients have been treated – 1029 for Diagnostic Angiograms, 447 for Percuntaneous Coronary Interventions (PCIs) and 130 for Pressure Wire Studies (figures until end of September 2012).

The Centre has been a huge boost to cardiac care in Cumbria as prior to the introduction of the service, angina and heart attack patients underwent assessments in the Cumberland Infirmary or West Cumberland Hospital, and then were transferred to Newcastle, Middlesbrough or Blackpool hospitals for further treatment. Patients with heart disease benefit from quick diagnosis and treatment, therefore the availability of immediate angioplasty locally is important in avoiding delay and reducing the risk of life-threatening heart attacks for patients in Cumbria.

Caroline Shaw, PCI Unit Sister, said: “I am really pleased with how the team has come together and progressed over the past year. We have had an excellent first year and are now looking forward to implementing our plans for 2013.

“We will be bringing Primary PCI (acute heart attack) patients directly into The Heart Centre from spring next year which will mean expanding our facilities. Patients will no longer receive the clot buster injection (thrombolysis) but come directly into The Heart Centre for emergency angioplasty, preventing emergency transfers to Newcastle.

“We are also undertaking a vast amount of staff training, including rotating our staff from The Heart Centre, Coronary Care Unit and Cardiology ward to allow them to share training and experience, in preparation for further integrating the service.”

Lead Interventional Consultant Cardiologist Dr Roger Moore, said: “The angioplasty service in The Heart Centre has offered a dramatic improvement in cardiac care for the people of Cumbria, allowing the opportunity for immediate diagnosis and treatment of coronary heart disease, reducing the likelihood of heart attacks and saving lives.

“We are currently looking to expand the service by adding three extra sessions a week and are in the process of recruiting a fourth Interventional Cardiologist to join myself, Dr Justin Barclay and Dr Rhidian Shelton.”

Joining in the birthday celebrations is 46 year-old Darren Tate, a local man who suffered a heart attack in June at the top of Blencathra whilst out walking with work colleagues. He thought he was suffering from an asthma attack and was only talked into going to hospital by his friends when they had finished their walk. Moments after he arrived at the Cumberland Infirmary, he went into cardiogenic shock and his wife Jo was warned that the next six to eight hours were crucial. Darren was then transferred from the Coronary Care Unit to The Heart Centre for an emergency angiogram and angioplasty.

Darren said: “Not having the upheaval of travelling to Newcastle, Middlesbrough or Blackpool for this treatment meant far less stress for me and of course my family. Instead of a three hour drive accompanied by two nurses, it was a short trip down to The Heart Centre.

“The doctors and nurses were fantastic and their reassurance and care was second to none. Without them I’d be dead, there’s no doubt about that. I feel I owe them this debt and want to help pay back in the most obvious way I can. We are very lucky to have such a dynamic, forward thinking team in Cumbria.”

Darren now wants to raise £20,000 for the Coronary Care Ward and The Heart Centre by completing a triathlon covering the length and breadth of Britain. The majority of the challenge will be undertaken in a gym, under the supervision of this rehabilitation nurses.

To find out more about Darren’s ‘Hearts of Cumbria’ appeal, visit www.heartsofcumbria.co.uk