Health City Cayman Islands is offering another first that could save the lives of heart patients across the Caribbean.
Health City is the first hospital in the English-speaking Caribbean to use robotic navigation for joint replacements and the first to install two artificial hearts or left ventricle assisted devices.
It is now offering cryoablation, a highly effective procedure for patients with atrial fibrillation, a common rhythm disorder of the heart in which people get irregular palpitations, which can lead to breathlessness and strokes.
“It’s also responsible for a lot of morbidity and lifestyle issues for the patient and the healthcare cost of patients with atrial fibrillation on the community is pretty huge,” said Dr. Ravi Kishore, chief interventional cardiologist and electrophysiologist of the hospital which was founded by renowned heart surgeon and humanitarian Dr. Devi Shetty.
Peter Tuckey, originally from England, has lived in Jamaica since 1962, but when his heart developed atrial fibrillation, he tried hospitals in the United States and the Caribbean with little success. He was delighted and relieved to be cured at Health City Cayman Islands.
“It’s just that it’s an excellent facility and I’m so happy that it’s close to Jamaica … I’ll be back to exercising, back to golf and back to a drink or two, so everything’s on the up,” explained Mr. Tuckey after a Health City team led by Dr. Kishore treated his fibrillation with the innovative cryoablation procedure.
Health City can help manage atrial fibrillation with medications and radiofrequency ablation, but there are imperfections with those methods. The new technology introduces a deflated cryoballoon into the heart. “Through this balloon we can introduce a liquid, which cools and dilates the balloon, and then freezes whichever structure it is put into,” explained Dr. Kishore.
Doctors introduce the balloon catheter into the groin and thread it into the pulmonary veins, located in the back of the heart, where the impulses that trigger the atrial fibrillation come from, and then inflate the balloon and freeze the vein for about two to three minutes, quickly and effectively destroying the source of the fibrillation.
Dr. Kishore said that cryoablation is simpler, more effective and has fewer complications than radiofrequency ablation, which burns the affected area with radio waves. Even though they only introduced the cryoablation technique in the past few weeks, his teams have already performed the 60- to 90-minute procedure on five patients, all of whom were discharged within a day. “We found it a very user-friendly technology and the outcomes were fantastic,” Dr. Kishore said.
With Health City now offering this pioneering procedure, patients will be saved long and expensive trips. Health City is possibly the only location in the English-speaking Caribbean performing cryoablation for atrial fibrillation, for which people previously had to travel to the U.S. or U.K.
However, there is more than technology behind Health City’s success. Mr. Tuckey had not been pleased with his hospital experiences in the U.S., where an ablation surgery in Miami in 2014 failed, but he was impressed this time when he and his wife were met at the airport by Health City staffers who drove him to his appointments.
He was relieved when staff shuttled his wife to her hotel and to his appointments, which saved him stressing about her “getting a taxi or having to look after herself in a foreign country – it was excellent.”
Backing up the accomplished surgeons, Mr. Tuckey recalled, was an efficient and caring staff at the East End facility. “All the nurses and all the attending staff were very, very helpful and very accommodating – definitely we would recommend it. I must tell you in Jamaica, where we come from, Health City’s reputation is growing already. It’s becoming quite well known.”
Dr. Kishore is pleased that Health City Cayman Islands has adopted the new cryoablation technique. “This procedure gives a new option for patients suffering from atrial fibrillation by providing a safer and more effective option for long-term recovery.”