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Leading edge electrophysiology at Hoag Hospital reduces stress

?As seen in Orange County Register?

Considering the heart’s vital role in our health and well-being, it is surprisingly small – about the size of a fist and weighing in at just nine to 11 ounces on average.
Diminutive, perhaps, but when it comes to anatomy, your heart is a heavyweight player. Every minute, this muscular little organ beats an average of 72 times, fully contracting and pumping 10 liters – roughly two and a half gallons – of life-sustaining blood to the outermost reaches of your body. Over a 70-year lifespan, a heart pumps a staggering one million liters, or 250,000 gallons, of blood.
As medical director of electrophysiology at Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian, I examine and treat hearts of all ages and in all conditions: some relatively strong and healthy, some very weak from advanced disease, and everything in between. Despite its remarkable complexity and made-to-last toughness, when all is said and done the human heart relies on its owner to take good care of it. Not everyone does, of course, and years of neglect and abuse – including smoking, obesity, lack of exercise, poor eating habits, untreated high blood pressure, stress and more – exact a terrible toll on millions of Americans’ hearts.
Few things cause more anxiety than being told there may be something wrong with your heart. A large percentage of the people who arrive for tests at Hoag’s cardiac catheterization lab are understandably nervous.
Determined to reduce cardiac patients’ stress levels and enhance care, Hoag last week opened the world’s most advanced cardiac cath lab. The Allan and Sara Fainbarg Electrophysiology Cath Suite? integrates leading-edge electrophysiology (EP) technology in a setting that places an extraordinary focus on patients’ comfort and relaxation.
The suite combines soothing lights, sound and imagery to create pleasant distractions for patients as they undergo often lengthy lab procedures. They can “travel” to the beach or the mountains, or make other choices from a selection of themed presentations.
Besides helping patients remain calm and relaxed, the EP Suite was designed to provide physicians and other medical personnel easy access to the latest technologies.
Leading-edge EP systems have been brought together into one control pad, called “the cockpit,” located at physicians’ fingertips, in line of sight with the patient, through a customizable 55-inch monitor. Seemingly minor touches – incorporating special out-of-the-way spots for cables, charts and trays, for example – enhance patient treatment by improving the medical team’s movement around the lab. The EP suite also features the West Coast’s first use of “Zero Gravity,” a ceiling-suspended radiation shield system that eliminates the need for physicians to don lead protection aprons that can weigh as much as 25 pounds and cause back and neck aches after hours of wear.
The new EP suite also allows us to measure outcomes. Our goal is to reduce the amount of anesthesia patients need and use, in turn enhancing their overall safety, experience and recovery. The suite will let us determine if positive distractions can play a role in anesthesia reduction.
More than two years in the planning, the suite is a tangible example of our desire to advance the care of patients through integration of technology and patient experience. After all, providing the best care possible is the heart of the matter.
Dr. Lee is medical director of electrophysiology at Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian.