The “boom” of catheterization due to consequences of Covid

A discomfort in the chest, fatigue, decay and tiredness was what Manuel felt when he asked to be taken to the doctor. The attention was quick and the first thing that was determined was that he had very high blood pressure.

Investigating the origin of the situation was necessary and that is how they subjected it to analyzes and site studies.

The results of the samples and tests carried out warned that something was wrong with his heart. Referring him to a center specializing in cardiovascular issues was what required the preliminary diagnosis. That’s how it went.

Once taken to the place, he underwent a coronary angioplasty that revealed that the patient had acute coronary syndrome without ST elevation (Scasest). Two clogged arteries.

Knowing the news, the cardiologist explained to the relatives that a catheterization had to be performed, which is a process that consists of passing a thin and flexible tube, known as a catheter, until it reaches the right or left side of the heart. This procedure makes it easier to explore the area and is done from the groin or arm. Nothing else to talk about. That was what he ordered and it had to be submitted to the study.

Although in some cases, it is a process that takes only a few minutes, with Manuel it took more than half an hour, because the coronary syndrome found through the study had to be repaired and two stents had to be placed.

The same did not happen with one of her sisters who, months earlier, had also undergone the same treatment. Fortunately, she didn’t have any damage to her arteries.

Everything went well. The doctor who performed the catheterization explained in great detail what Manuel had, who was already in Intensive Care waiting for the 24 hours of recovery that his case required.

While the family waited for news about the evolution of their relative, and they did so in a waiting room in which there was representation of around seven or eight other patients, who had also undergone a catheterization. Some by the groin and others, like Manuel, by the hands.

Everyone in the room was struck by the high number of patients who needed this procedure, and that was when two employees of the center were asked, out of curiosity, about how many catheterizations are performed there daily or monthly. “Well, there are a lot of them, in one day they make 18 or more, and a month, like some 200”.

The answer was not offered by a doctor, but by a person involved in these matters who, attached to his experience, admitted that cases have increased after the coronavirus pandemic. “It is that this Covid has left sequels, hopefully all people of a certain age can go to a cardiologist to be checked, because that never hurts.”

an expert voice
Dr. Mayra Melo, director of the Dominican Institute of Cardiology (IDC) admits that as a result of Covid-19 and the consequences it can leave, cardiovascular problems have increased, due to the thrombi that usually form after suffering from the virus.

Catheterizations as part of treatments to detect and resolve some heart conditions have, of course, also increased, the specialist said.

“There are also people who have died as a result of these effects,” says Melo, who gives as an important fact that only Dr. José M. Pantaleón, in one of these days, did nine catheterizations. “Only him, imagine that there are several doctors who perform this procedure in the center…”, he emphasizes.

After reporting that in Cardiology between 130 and 150 catheterizations are performed per month, he contrasts the current situation with that of 2019, 2020 and 2021. “In 2019 we had a large number of patients who underwent catheterization. In 2020, it was not so much, because due to the pandemic we only worked with this, January and February, already in March we stopped the practice, and in July we returned, adhering to the protocols, but not as much ”, he details.

By 2021, everything was regularized and the cases are similar to those of 2019, which were quite a few. All this despite the fact that, on some occasions, due to damaged devices, patients had to be referred to other centers.

Now in 2022 there has been an increase, which she largely attributes to the aftermath of Covid.

Saving lives
Dr. Ernesto Díaz Álvarez, advisor to the IDC, maintains that in this center they have not been able to register a greater number of procedures of this type in recent times, due to the fact that other institutions that perform catheterization have emerged.

He understands that the Institute’s figures are not what they should be either, because the stoppage of the building’s construction has not allowed it to respond to the population’s demand in this regard.

“But it should be noted that we are providing an excellent service through the 24-hour ‘Saving Lives’ program, which is the one that treats patients who arrive at dawn with an acute myocardial problem and care is given to them. In this program we see between five and seven patients a month and we have saved many lives”, he says with satisfaction.

At Gautier Hospital
The director of cardiology at the Salvador B. Gautier hospital, Fulgencio Severino, considered that the number of catheterizations performed by some citizens in the country is lower than the demand that exists.

He explained that in 2019 in the 11 catheterization rooms in the Dominican Republic, approximately 3,732 procedures were performed on patients with cardiovascular diseases.

“The amount that is registered is lower than the demand,” said the doctor, estimating that each year the figures should exceed 13,000 patients operated on.

Doctor Pedro Urena

Cardiologist Pedro Ureña considered that if these surgeries have increased, it may be due to the demand of citizens as well as the number of specialized centers that have been established in the country.

The specialist specified that he belongs to a group of cardiologists who work in two medical centers and these generate at least two or three cases per day that require this procedure, which would correspond to a number of one thousand patients operated on per year.

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