GRMC attacks Guam's number one killer, heart disease, with new program
Guam Regional Medical City Interventional Cardiologist Dr. Joseph Wiedermann has launched a new cardiac care program at GRMC for the victims of heart attacks.
“What we’re building is a full 24 hour, 7 day a week STEMI program,” said Dr. Wiedermann, “so that anybody who has a heart attack anywhere on the island of Guam will be brought immediately here to GRMC and have their blocked artery re-opened and normal blood flow to the heart restored.”
“However time is critical,” said Dr. Wiedermann. “The standard of care for intervention of heart attacks requires you to meet a 90 minute window within arrival to the ER. However, the most crucial time interval is how early the patient comes to the hospital once the chest pain starts. The sooner the patient arrives in the ER, the sooner we can open the artery, and the more heart muscle is saved.”
Dr. Wiedermann specializes in complex coronary disease and he has put together a support team that now offers fast, minimally-invasive, corrective interventions to relieve the impact of life-threatening STEMI type heart attacks before permanent damage, or death occurs. STEMI stands for “ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction“. It’s a serious type of heart attack that happens when one of the heart's major arteries becomes completely blocked.
Dr. Wiedermann faced one such case just last week. He quickly activated his team and performed a cardiac catheterization and coronary intervention on a 58 year old woman from Dededo. This is a minimally invasive, non-surgical procedure.
“We inserted a tiny wire through a catheter placed in the woman’s leg artery and guided it up to the point of blockage in the woman’s heart artery,” said Dr. Wiedermann. “Using that wire we delivered a balloon to open the artery back up and then we inserted a ‘stent’, which is a piece of metal tubing that holds the artery open permanently.” The operation was carried out within 61 minutes. “Well within the 90 minute window,” said Dr. Wiedermann. The patient is being released this weekend.
Since his arrival one month ago, Dr. Wiedermann has already performed 16 “interventions” of various kinds on patients suffering from heart disease.
“I’ve seen a lot of patients already with recurrent heart attacks,” said Dr. Wiedermann. “At least now, if they’re brought in immediately, we can fix the problem so they don’t have to come in again.”
Heart disease is the number one cause of death on Guam, as well as on the U.S. mainland.