Cardiology is the medical speciality dealing with the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and disorders of the heart.
Cardiologists are specialists in diseases of the heart. The biggest area of heart disease treated is coronary artery disease e.g. angina. Also treated are abnormal heart rhythms, heart failure, high blood pressure and some rarer conditions.
Cardiologists usually treat heart disease with drugs. Some of them are also able to provide treatment for coronary heart disease with coronary angioplasty (a procedure by which the arteries of the heart are widened). If heart surgery is required, a cardiologist will refer you on to see a cardiothoracic surgeon who would perform the surgery. Cardiothoracic Surgeons from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham hold regular clinics at Hereford County Hospital; however, you will be given a choice of where to go for surgery.
Hereford Hospitals has four Cardiology Consultants:
- Dr James Glancy
- Dr Neeraj Prasad
- Dr Andy Epstein
- Dr Ioannis Vasilidias
Alongside the Consultants, there are other doctors who work within Cardiology – these include local GPs who have a special interest in Cardiology and work as Clinical Assistants in Cardiology. These are:
- Dr Mark Turnbull
- Dr Heather King
- Dr Ritesh Dua
The most common surgery to the heart is coronary artery bypass and valvular surgery. Should you require heart surgery then you will be referred to a Cardiothoracic Surgeon for assessment. Surgeons from the University Hospital Birmingham (UHB) NHS Trust undertake clinics at The County Hospital.
The service offers expert medical care for the population of the West Midlands and beyond, providing specialist services such as transplantation and aortic surgery.
Patients are also commonly referred to Cardiothoracic Surgeons at New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton. Unfortunately, this team does not hold clinics in Hereford.
Those wishing to pay for private care often choose The Priory Hospital in Edgbaston. The Priory Hospital has over 100 beds with all rooms offering the privacy and comfort of en-suite facilities, satellite TV and telephone. The hospital has six theatres and a six-bed intensive care unit. The same surgeons, who hold clinics in Hereford, and work at UHB, also undertake private work at this hospital. You can obtain further information about the hospitals mentioned by using the internet links provided or contacting Cardiac Rehabilitation.
These are not the only places you can receive surgical care. Patients now have the right to choose where their surgery is performed and, to a certain extent, who undertakes it. Further information about this can be obtained from www.nhs.uk and search for patient choice.
If your surgery is needed immediately it is likely that you will be sent to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital by ambulance and discussions about choice may not be given much priority on these occasions. The Cardiothoracic Surgeons from Birmingham who visit Hereford County Hospital are Mr Stephen Rooney and Professor Mr Domenico Pagano. These clinics are generally held twice a month. This valuable service reduces the need for those likely to undergo surgery to travel to Birmingham for follow-up appointments.
If you are waiting for a TAVI (Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation) then you may be referred to Birmingham or Stoke. Unfortunately, these consultants do not come to Hereford so you will need to go to the above for your appointment.
The cardiac rehabilitation team will be involved with your care (see Cardiac rehabilitation section).
Adult Congenital Heart Abnormalities (GUCH) and Cardiac Electrophysiology Clinics
A congenital heart defect is an abnormality of the heart that has been present from birth. Children born with heart disease, who once would not have survived, now reach adolescence and adulthood as a result of advances in cardiac surgery and medicine. These types of conditions are called Adult Congenital Heart Abnormalities or GUCH.
If an abnormality is found, a cardiologist will carry out a full medical examination, arrange for an electrocardiogram (ECG), a chest x-ray, an echocardiogram and possibly blood tests. He will then be in a position to discuss with the patient what sort of treatment, if any, is required.
Some people may need more than one heart operation. If an artificial valve or plastic tube is inserted in the heart as a child, this will need replacing as the patient outgrows it. This can occur several times. Sometimes just ageing and growth can reduce the effectiveness of the first surgery. Regular follow-up is needed, even if the patient has had successful surgery and is leading a very normal life, because changes may occur within the heart. Cardiac surgery is relatively new and nobody knows what long-term effects there may be and it is important, for future generations, that records are kept.
Dr Paul Clift, Consultant in Adult Congenital Heart Disease at Birmingham and a leading expert in this field, holds a joint clinic at Hereford Hospitals every 6 months.
Cardiac Electrophysiology (also referred to as clinical cardiac electrophysiology , Arrhythmia Services, or electrophysiology), is that branch of the medical specialty of cardiology/cardiac surgery concerned with the study and treatment of rhythm disorders of the heart. Cardiologists with expertise in this area are usually referred to as electrophysiologists. They are trained in the mechanism, function, and performance of the electrical activities of the heart.
Electrophysiologists work closely with other cardiologists and cardiac surgeons to assist or guide therapy for heart rhythm disturbances (arrhythmias).They are trained to perform interventional and surgical procedures to treat cardiac arrhythmia.
Dr Mauro Lencioni, Consultant Electrophysiologist from Birmingham and a leading expert in ablation treatment and rhythm disturbances, visits Hereford Hospitals every 6 weeks.