x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

New heart unit eases pain of surgery

State of the art technology will enable doctors to treat more cases and reduce recovery times at Sheikh Khalifa Medical city.

The ambient health clinic at the Sheikh Khalifa Medical City is the first of its kind in the Middle East.
The ambient health clinic at the Sheikh Khalifa Medical City is the first of its kind in the Middle East.

ABU DHABI // With soft sounds of the sea filling the room, images of natural beauty projected on to the ceiling and coloured lighting adjustable to suit your mood, it would be easy to mistake this for a therapy lounge at a spa. However, this room, designed to achieve optimum levels of relaxation, is in fact where complex life-saving heart operations are carried out daily. This brand new facility, the first of its kind in the Middle East, uses the sensory effects of low lighting and soothing music to relax the patients as much as possible before the intricate keyhole cardiac surgery. Coupled with state of the art technology, doctors operating in this suite at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC) will be able to treat more patients and recovery times will improve. The ambient cardiac catheterisation laboratory has been clinically proven to reduce anxiety. Dr Nazar Albustani, director of invasive cardiology at the hospital, said studies in Europe have shown the techniques used in these labs lower stress to the point where the dosages of sedatives for patients can be reduced by as much as 22 per cent. "The new suite was constructed and established to improve the patients' emotional and physical comfort," he said. The reduction of sedative drugs means "less risk to the patient, a quicker turnaround of the procedures, and less cost", said Dr Scott Strong, acting chief executive of the hospital. The features of the new lab help to make cardiac procedures "a delightful and friendly experience for patients and staff", he said. When admitted to the lab, a patient can select a theme with accompanying scene projectors, lighting and sound effects. The ocean theme, for example, plays New Age music with the sound of seagull cries and lapping waves and is accompanied with seascape images and a choice of light or dark blue lighting. If they wish, patients can also listen to the Quran or bring their own music from home. By having control over the sound, lighting and video, the thinking goes, patients will be relaxed and feel that they have some input into and control over their treatment. Since the beginning of September, 60 patients have been treated in the new ambient facility. Up to 12 patients per day can be admitted, which, in turn, will allow more service for all cardiac patients at SKMC. "We will be able to provide the whole cardiac service from a newborn baby to an 80- or 90-year-old patient," said Dr Norbert Augustin, chairman of the hospital's cardiac sciences department. "It will allow us to extend the spectrum of our diagnosis and treatment." The new laboratory also has technical improvements for the doctors. During surgery. medical staff are able to view the patient's heart in three dimensions. This includes the organ itself and all the surrounding arteries, meaning that the intricate parts of the operation will be much easier to perform and will eventually allow for quicker procedures. It will also reduce radiation doses for patients. It is expected that this year the number of invasive cardiology procedures at the hospital will increase by 75 per cent. "The new ambient experience cardiac catheterisation lab will add to our excellence in adult interventional cardiology by improving efficiency and patient comfort, and as well as revolutionising cardiac catheterisation," said Dr Albustani. Cardiovascular disease accounts for 28 per cent of all deaths in the UAE and has been called the main cause of death. About 38 per cent of those cases are among Emiratis. Although it tends to affect more men that women, cardiovascular disease kills a larger percentage of women because symptoms are often overlooked. The new facility hopefully will reduce deaths. Dr Wael Almahmeed, the deputy medical director and the head of the adult cardiology division, said that SKMC prides itself on being the only centre in the country to deliver "integrated adult cardiovascular experience". He added that the new lab is "another step to fulfilling our vision of leading the way in cardiovascular care." amcmeans@thenational.ae