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School of Medicine
February is American Heart Month
Discover the Latest Ways Johns Hopkins Leads in Heart and Vascular Care
For decades, patients and their families have relied on the Johns Hopkins Heart and Vascular Institute for cardiovascular care. John Hopkins’ rich tradition in advancing heart care—the groundbreaking “blue baby” operation, the invention of CPR, the development of balloon angioplasty, to name just a few examples—continues today with innovations in treatment and research.
At the Heart and Vascular Institute, our programs offer both routine and complex cardiovascular care. As we celebrate American Heart Month, find out how Johns Hopkins improves health throughout the nation and world by combining top physicians and surgeons, innovative research, and quality patient care to customize treatment for each individual.
1. Getting the Leads Out
For people who have experienced life-threatening heart arrhythmias such as ventricular tachycardia, or ventricular fibrillation, implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) can be lifesavers. Should the leads (wires) that connect these devices into the patient’s heart get infected, though, the situation can be life threatening. That is why cardiac surgeon Alan Cheng, who routinely performs the surgery to remove these infected leads, now offers patients who qualify a subcutaneous ICD that provides the same protection against heart arrhythmias without requiring lead insertion into the heart. Read more.
2. Celebrating 30 Years of Successful Heart Transplant
Heart Transplant | Orlando's Story
In 1982, Orlando DeFelice developed idiopathic cardiomyopathy from a virus and within a year was in need of a heart transplant. He lost 92 percent of his heart function, making the simplest of tasks—such as brushing his teeth—physically exhausting. He received his heart transplant in August of 1983, the second ever heart transplant at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. DeFelice celebrated the 30th anniversary of his surgery in August of 2013. That anniversary makes him the longest surviving heart transplant patient in Johns Hopkins’ history. Read more.
3. Advancing the Understanding of Congenital Heart Disease Treatment
Where once life expectancy for those with congenital heart defects was less than a decade, there are now as many adults living with congenital heart disease as there are infants and children with these conditions. This level of longevity is the result of many refinements in treatment made since the first “blue baby” operation was performed at Johns Hopkins in 1944. Recognizing that key to further success is the evaluation of many surgical outcomes, Johns Hopkins Cardiac Surgery Director Duke Cameron has recruited pediatric cardiac surgeon Marshall Jacobs to coordinate outcomes research and combine expertise across the congenital heart surgery programs at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, All Children’s Hospital (part of Johns Hopkins Medicine) in St. Petersburg, Florida and Florida Hospital for Children in Orlando. Read more.
4. Improving Response to Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy
For the 60 to 70 percent of heart failure patients who respond to cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT), this treatment can save and dramatically improve quality of life. For those that do not respond to this therapy, prognosis for survival is very poor without additional intervention. Cardiac electrophysiologist John Rickard established the new Johns Hopkins Resynchronization Optimization Clinic to thoroughly evaluate the reasons why particular patients are not responding to CRT and provide recommendations to referring physicians on how to help patients benefit from the therapy. Ultimately, the goal for the specialized clinic is to improve patient survival and reduce hospitalization and readmission due to heart failure. Read more.
5. Identifying the Mechanism Behind Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy
Cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) is one of the most important treatments for heart failure. Cardiologist and researcher David Kass and his lab played a key role in developing this therapy for patients in the late 1990s. Interestingly, while the treatment has become widespread, Dr. Kass and his colleagues did not know the biological mechanisms as to why the therapy worked—until now. The scientists learned that CRT changes heart cells so they can contract more forcefully. They also identified an enzyme that mimics the effect of CRT without use of the device. These discoveries potentially offer new pathways to treat more heart failure patients; not only those whose hearts beat out of sync but also those who do not qualify for CRT therapy. Read more.
6. Addressing the Vascular and Wound Issues of Diabetes
More than 60 percent of all lower-limb amputations occur in people with diabetes; up to 55 percent of those who have had an amputation will experience the loss of their second leg within two to three years. In order to provide early, coordinated care for the growing number of patients with diabetes-related vascular and wound complications, vascular and endovascular surgeon Christopher Abularrage and colleagues developed the Multidisciplinary Diabetic Foot and Wound Clinic that enables patients to see three specialists in one visit for consultation, education and treatment. Read more.
The Johns Hopkins Heart & Vascular Institute
Johns Hopkins cardiologists, cardiac surgeons and vascular surgeons collaborate in the Heart & Vascular Institute to lead the way in providing patient-centered care -- from cardiovascular disease prevention, through treatment and surgery. These Johns Hopkins cardiovascular specialists are pioneering cardiovascular care through research and clinical care.