It’s 10 a.m. on a recent Thursday and invasive cardiologist Dr. Ali Hammoud is at Northern Dutchess Hospital’s cardiac catheterization laboratory, prepping a patient for a procedure to check for any obstructions in his heart.
Hammoud carefully threads a catheter through an artery in the patient’s wrist until it reaches the heart, allowing him to view the coronary arteries and determine if further treatment is needed.
Some blockages were noted during the approximately 20-minute procedure. A plan to determine whether the patient would need medication, stents or open-heart surgery would be discussed with the care team.
“This is a new diagnostic tool for Northern Dutchess Hospital,” Hammoud said. “It’s been more utilized than anticipated.”
Since opening in late September 2020, more than 150 procedures to detect and prevent heart disease have been conducted at the “cath lab,” he said.
“We’ve been doing cardiac testing and rehab for decades, but this has allowed us to pursue more advanced diagnosing problems, including coronary artery disease — the most common type of heart disease and the leading cause of death in the United States,” said Northern Dutchess Hospital President Denise George. “We are proud to offer this technology that matches medical centers in the country.”
In 2018, the hospital opened a $3 million interventional radiology suite equipped with advanced imaging equipment, setting in motion plans for the cath lab. A multidisciplinary care team that includes interventional physicians, specially trained technologists and nurses was put together to run the cath lab, followed by state approvals.
Patients seen at the cath lab are those with chest pain, shortness of breath, congestive heart failure, pulmonary hypertension, aortic stenosis and mitral regurgitation, Hammoud said.
Cardiac catheterization is typically an outpatient procedure and the majority of patients can resume normal activity after a day or two, he said.
“The cath lab has proven to be a much-needed addition for the community,” Hammoud said.