Dr. Aravind Sekhar just successfully performed his first coronary angiogram this week. He talks about what Guam residents can look forward to.
Guam – The Guam Regional Medical City has just opened up its Catheterization Lab, giving the island greater access to treatment for heart disease. We sat down with the hospital’s new interventional cardiologist, Dr. Aravind Sekhar, to find out what the island can look forward to and how this can help Guam families.
For decades, patients have had to seek off-island treatment for many conditions and for conditions dealing with the heart, this is rather common, especially with the abnormal rise in heart disease on island.
Dr. Aravind Sekhar is an interventional cardiologist with the new Guam Regional Medical City who just performed his first successful coronary angiogram at the hospital’s new catheterization laboratory this week. Dr. Sekhar is one of a few doctors of his kind on Guam. His specialty involves a mixture of diagnosing and treatment of certain heart conditions. Dr. Sekhar, for the most part, performs angiograms, which involves placing a tool into a blood vessel which then travels into the heart to be able to determine the severity of a blockage.
“What I do is basically do angiograms and if there are blockages that are in one or two vessels that are amenable to fixing with stent and balloons,” explains Dr. Sekhar.
Dr. Sekhar explains that typically, patients with heart disease, such as blockage of the arteries, will first see a cardiologist, then an interventional cardiologist, if needed. And in the event surgery is needed, like open heart or bypass surgery, the patient will then be referred to a cardiothoracic surgeon. Currently Dr. Sekhar is the only interventional cardiologist who operates out of a civilian hospital on Guam.
“The issue with these kinds of emergency patients is that it’s difficult to do these kinds of procedures in a facility without a hospital backup and ideally these procedures should be done with a cardiac surgery backup,” he says.
Dr. Sekhar says there are other cath labs on Guam, such as the one at Guam Radiology Consultants, but those operate on an outpatient basis. Dr. Sekhar talks about some of the observations he’s made in the short time he’s been seeing patients here.
“So one of the things that was, to me, surprising is, for example, two patients that we did, one of them is 40 years old, the other is 47 and they have–the amount of disease that they have is the kind of disease in 70, 80 year old’s on the mainland. Both of these patients, they don’t have the other typical risk factors. They are not diabetics, they don’t have long-standing hypertension, they don’t smoke,” he explains.
The addition of another cath lab at a Guam hospital with an interventional cardiologist and soon, he says, a cardiothoracic surgeon, will bring many benefits to the island.
“They could have built a hospital without cardiology services or without a cardiac cath lab because it is a big investment. I’d like to actually thank the administration and of course it was also a joint effort with the government that helped to have this, to raise the level of care on Guam, because it is very unusual when you compare it to the rest of the mainland US,” he says.
You can learn more about the services GRMC offers by visiting their website at grmc.gu.