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A Spirit of Innovation: The Johns Hopkins Heart and Vascular Institute [Transcription]

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Narrator: A patient’s care is the sum of a lot of parts.

Dr. Duke Cameron: It used to be that the treatment of heart disease was almost a one man or one woman show. You could be a surgeon and just focus on one operation and make large contributions, but nowadays the problems we are dealing with are much more complex.

Dr. Bruce Perler: We routinely see patients from all over the country with very complicated, difficult cardiovascular problems. Often we are a critical second option. We also see patients on a regular basis with routine cardiovascular problems. They come to us not just because of the quality of care we deliver, but because of the manner in which we deliver that care to these patients.

Dr. Gordon Tomaselli: For complex cardiovascular procedures – and I would say that most cardiac surgery and complex catheter based procedures, you really need experts. Experts are going to be the people who make sure you have the best outcomes. And here at Johns Hopkins, we have experts.

Cameron: One can argue that the original example of bench-to-bedside medicine was with the development of the Blalock-Taussig shunt, the blue baby operation for children born with cyanotic heart disease and has saved the lives of countless children.

Perler: At the Heart and Vascular Institute, we deliver world-class, state of the art cardiovascular care, each of us in our own specialties, work every day to advance the state of knowledge in our field.

Cameron: It’s a culture. It’s an atmosphere. It’s a spirit here at this institution, which in fact has the longest history in surgical treatment of congenital heart disease of any institution in the world.

Tomaselli: We’ve done everything from develop and perfect methods of cardiopulmonary resuscitation to the utilization of clot busting drugs to treat myocardial infarction; operations in Marfan Syndrome to replace the major blood vessel that comes out of the heart, the aorta.

Cameron: We now have a new technology for the treatment of obstructed aortic valves that involves placement of a collapsible valve inside a stent, but delivered through the femoral artery of elderly patients who are probably too sick and too frail to undergo conventional heart surgery.

Tomaselli: This type of expertise doesn’t occur everywhere in the country, and in fact, for a first opinion or a second opinion, Hopkins is the place for you to be.

Cameron: It’s always worth traveling to get the best care. Care always begets questions, and questions that lead to research that ultimately feed back and improve care. That’s the excitement of a place like Johns Hopkins, where research is intricately interwoven with the care of patients and the training of new physicians.

Tomaselli: As physician-scientists, we ask not only the “what” questions, but the “why” questions, and this is what’s lead to fundamental discoveries in understand heart and vascular disease.

Perler: We are one of the only centers in the country using endovascular stent graft technology to treat complex aortic aneurysms in the abdomen and the chest, thereby avoiding major open surgical procedures, allowing us to treat patients who, in many cases were felt to be too sick, too old or too infirm to undergo conventional treatment. Through our multidisciplinary team approach here, we’re able to prepare these patients for surgery and tailor an approach that they will tolerate, allowing us to treat them safely and effectively.

Cameron: You can’t make a good decision about which therapy is the best unless you provide all of them. On the cardiology side, the treatment of heart rhythm and heart failure problems; the treatment of aortic aneurysms, particularly with operations that preserve a patient’s valve rather than sacrifice them; minimally invasive surgery, performance of coronary artery bypass surgery without using the heart-lung machine; the entire spectrum of cardiac services are available here at Johns Hopkins. Everybody here comes into work every day asking, “Can we do this better? Is there a question that needs to be answered that can allow us to improve care for patients with heart disease?”

Perler: We feel collectively and individually, we don’t treat diseases, we don’t treat conditions, we don’t treat cardiovascular disease, we’re here to take care of the patients.

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