The UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute (HVI) continues to contribute to advancing the field of cardiovascular medicine, striving to provide the most advanced care for patients with both common and complex conditions. As heart month comes to an end, Dr. Suresh Mulukutla, an interventional cardiologist and chair of cardiology at UPMC Passavant, discusses the continued expansion of cardiovascular care and technology for patients in the northern suburbs of Pittsburgh and beyond.
- What have been the biggest advancements at the UPMC Passavant HVI over the 20 years you’ve been here?
There have been innumerable advancements in the treatment of cardiovascular disease, and much of it is available to patients right here at UPMC Passavant. The pace of change in heart care is rapid, and there is enormous opportunity for us to connect with patients and referring physicians to share some of these advances that will improve care and quality of life.
Much of the focus over the last several years has been to connect patients to the appropriate physician so that we can provide patient-centric care. Specific populations can benefit from the expertise that these clinics can provide. Examples include clinics with a focus on valvular heart disease, women’s cardiology, vascular medicine, cardiovascular prevention and much more.
There has been incredible excitement in helping our patients across the entire spectrum of cardiovascular disease. We have new capabilities for improving quality of life and decreasing stroke risk in patients with atrial fibrillation, for dealing with valvular heart disease with less invasive therapies and managing complex coronary artery disease and vascular disease.
Cardiovascular imaging has helped us to risk stratify patients with a variety of cardiac conditions and can help to image the heart in ways that were simply not possible even five years ago.
HVI is committed to team-based care. In the last several years, several “heart teams” have been developed with experts across the UPMC HVI. This allows any patient that comes to any hospital within the UPMC system to know that they will get the right experts involved whenever needed. So, UPMC Passavant provides world-class care right in the backyard of the communities it serves.
Are most procedures less invasive than they were 20 years ago?
One of the greatest advancements in cardiovascular care is the ability to deliver procedures that are less invasive. Two decades ago, patients with valve issues, like aortic stenosis or mitral valve leaking, could only get surgery. And, if they were too high risk for surgery, they would have limited options. Today, that landscape has fundamentally shifted. Cardiologists and cardiac surgeons work in collaboration to take care of these valve issues with less invasive approaches when appropriate.
Robotic surgery is another area where cardiac surgeons can help treat coronary disease and valvular disease with great precision. There are also advanced techniques for helping patients with complicated coronary disease and other diseases of the blood vessels with minimally invasive methods.
UPMC Passavant’s HVI is proud to be able to provide all these options to our patients.
- Is it easier to predict heart issues today than it was in the past?
This is an exciting time in cardiology to help evaluate patients’ risks for developing heart disease. With a combination of tools that consider a specific patient’s risk factors combined, when necessary, with imaging techniques, we have never been better-equipped to identify future complications and develop a patient-centric care plan.
- Has advice provided to patients about heart health changed over the years, or has it remained constant?
In the past, recommendations about heart health fell into a “one-size-fits-all” pattern. Now, with our ability to evaluate personal risk, we strive to make recommendations that are suitable for a specific patient. We have many tools and medications that we can offer to patients, but the art of medicine is in identifying which patients should get which interventions. UPMC HVI works with our patients towards personal cardiovascular risk modification.
- Tell us how patients in the North Hills can receive world-class cardiac care at UPMC Passavant without traveling elsewhere.