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Johns Hopkins Medicine Suburban - A Life Saved … Twice

New Directions Summer 2014

A Life Saved … Twice

Date: June 1, 2014

Constantine Zuras of Rockville with the two physicians he credits for saving his life
Constantine Zuras of Rockville, center, with the two physicians he credits for saving his life: Dr. Brendan Carmody, assistant director of emergency medicine, left; and Dr. Eric Lieberman, interventional cardiologist.

This past Valentine’s Day, Suburban Hospital saved the life of Constantine Zuras of Rockville. It was not the first time.

In 1980, at age 15, Zuras was struck by a car and rushed to Suburban with a severe head injury and a broken leg and wrist. He underwent a procedure to relieve pressure in his head and was placed in a medically induced coma until his condition stabilized. He credits his neurosurgeon at the time, Dr. John Lord, for his remarkable recovery.

Thirty-four years later, the 49-year-old married father of two would again rely on Suburban Hospital to provide lifesaving care. When a feeling of heartburn late in the evening turned into chest pain a few hours later, he realized it was time for a trip to the emergency room. “I know we should have called an ambulance or gone to the nearest hospital, but instead I told my wife to drive me to Suburban,” he says. “I’m alive today thanks to Suburban, so there was no question where I wanted to go.”
Zuras was evaluated in the Emergency Department by Assistant Director of Emergency Medicine Brendan Carmody, M.D. “When patients arrive with chest pain, we must quickly identify who will benefit from emergency angioplasty, which is a time-dependent procedure,” says Dr. Carmody. “Within 10 minutes of Mr. Zuras arriving at the hospital, an EKG had been performed and I was evaluating him.”
The EKG showed evidence of the type of heart attack that requires emergency coronary intervention. Dr. Carmody immediately activated Suburban’s Code Heart Team. “The standard of care for this type of heart attack is the insertion of a stent within 90 minutes of the patient arriving at the hospital,” says cardiologist Eric Lieberman, M.D., who was called into the hospital’s Cardiac Cath Lab shortly before 1 a.m. “An angiogram showed that one of the arteries in Mr. Zuras’s heart was completely blocked, so we performed a coronary angioplasty, inserted a drugeluting stent to open the artery, and stopped his heart attack.”

“Nationwide, hospitals are working toward getting the majority of their eligible patients into the cath lab within the 90-minute time window,” explains Dr. Carmody. “At Suburban Hospital, we have been successful in achieving our goal of treating 96 percent of these patients within that time window.”

Zuras also benefited from a relatively new procedure that uses the radial artery in the wrist instead of the femoral artery in the groin for the insertion of his stent. “In patients presenting with a heart attack who are treated with stent implantation, there is a reduced incidence of bleeding and a lower mortality rate if the stent is implanted from the radial artery as opposed to the groin,” says Dr. Lieberman.

An echocardiogram the next day showed that, thanks to rapid intervention, Mr. Zuras’s heart was spared any damage. He was discharged 48 hours after his procedure. Today, he has lost weight, changed his diet dramatically, and exercises several days per week. And he continues to sing the praises of his favorite hospital, declaring, “This is the second time Suburban Hospital has saved my life.”