A Message from Daniel Edmundowicz, MD, MS, FACC
Professor of Medicine
Section Chief of Cardiology
Vice Chair of Program Development, Department of Medicine
Heart disease remains the number one cause of mortality in the United States, and with the aging population, the demand for cardiology services is continuously increasing. With advances in cardiovascular care over the past 20 years, we have seen substantial improvements in treatment of high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, heart attacks, heart failure, and dangerous heart rhythms. All of these advances demand that our program at Temple provide the most recent therapies delivered by skilled cardiologists who specialize in all the various aspects of cardiology. Our cardiology program at Temple is recognized as one of the top programs in the region. We currently have 22 cardiologists on our staff, and provide a full range of services for diagnosis and treatment of heart disease.
Our advanced heart failure and heart transplant programs are known and respected regionally, nationally and internationally. We have the longest history of heart transplant in the region, with our first heart transplant done in 1984, and the program continuing to grow since that time. Along with a heart transplant program comes a program for management of advanced heart failure. Over the 24 years since we started transplant in Philadelphia, the treatment of advanced heart failure has progressed enormously. We now have new drugs that keep patients stable and comfortable with ability to function normally with advanced heart failure. We have newer pacing devices that improve heart function and prevent serious problems with abnormal heart rhythms. In addition, we have begun over the past several years to use permanently implanted heart assist devices to provide a better quality of life for some patients who do not respond to the other medications, and pacemakers and ICDs that help stabilize a patient with heart failure. We have used the heart assist devices since 1992, when they became available for use in patients waiting for heart transplant; however, with advancing technology these devices can now be used in patients who are not eligible for heart transplantation. Our heart failure and transplant team consists not only of our specially trained cardiologists but also a group of nurses who contribute significantly to the care of our patients. We also use an internet communication system for some of our patients to report their condition and receive instructions on managing their care.
We have a fully staffed Catheterization Laboratory that provides care for a wide variety of heart diseases. We have a team that provides immediate care for acute heart attacks with the ability to quickly open a blocked coronary artery to stop a heart attack before major heart damage occurs. This therapy requires a 24/7 on-call system that allows one of our cardiologists to be at the hospital and ready to stop a heart attack within 90 minutes of a patient arriving at Temple. We have this system in place and ready to go for anyone who comes to us with an acute heart attack. Our Catheterization Team can also provide treatment for angina with use of the latest drug eluting stents, and also provides therapy for blood vessel disease in all other areas of the body including the legs, kidneys, abdominal arteries and the arteries that supply the brain. All of these blood vessels can be involved with atherosclerosis, and providing the latest therapies for their treatment is one of our goals in the catheterization program. We also provide catheter-based treatment for several congenital abnormalities of the heart. These techniques, which previously required open heart surgery, can now be done in our Catheterization Laboratory usually with no more than an overnight stay in the hospital.
Our Electrophysiology Team is providing a variety of services for patients who have abnormal heart rhythms. Many older patients become disabled because of a very slow heart rate, and the use of a permanent pacemaker restores normal function and quality of life for these patients. We are also providing state-of-the-art therapy for treatment of atrial fibrillation, a common heart arrhythmia that can be treated with a variety of medications or with use of the most recent ablation techniques that eliminate the abnormal rhythm and allow a patient to be on no, or minimal amounts of medications. Our group is participating in several clinical trials to test new medications for treatment of atrial fibrillation and offer our patients the opportunity to receive the newest therapies for this disorder.
The most recent advances in the area of diagnosis involve several new and several well established methods for non-invasive imaging of the heart circulation.
Our Echocardiography Laboratory is staffed by several nationally recognized experts in echocardiographic imaging of the heart. The laboratory provides important information on the status of heart function, abnormalities of the heart valves, and the structure of the heart in patients with congenital abnormalities of the heart. We use stress echocardiography to evaluate patients for coronary disease and provide support for several new catheter-based methods for closing congenital defects in the heart.
We also have a state-of-the-art Nuclear Imaging Laboratory for evaluation of patients with known or suspected coronary disease, and provide the latest technology for cardiac CT scanning for either blood vessel calcium score or for non-invasive imaging of the coronary arteries. We also utilize the latest technology for cardiac MRI. This important new non-invasive imaging technique provides important measures of the heart muscle function and structure, and structure of the blood vessels of the heart. In some heart disorders, the MRI images provide the best method for making a diagnosis of disorders that in the past were difficult or impossible to diagnose without invasive procedures.
We have learned over the past several years that prevention of coronary disease is the best method of maintaining a healthy life. There is little value in waiting for heart disease to occur, then becoming a lifelong patient in need of repeated procedures to maintain a healthy life. To provide advice and direction on avoiding heart disease, we have a fully operational preventive cardiology program supported by our team of clinical cardiologists and specially trained nurse practitioners who provide much of the ongoing surveillance of blood lipids, blood pressure, blood glucose, diet, smoking and exercise to minimize long term risk for heart and blood vessel disease.
Like most other academic programs, we have a robust research environment that allows us to participate in national clinical trials of new drugs and devices for cardiac care, and to bring basic research from the laboratory to our practice by constant communication with our basic scientists in the Temple Cardiovascular Research Center. We have numerous clinical trials active in the areas of heart failure, heart transplantation, interventional cardiology, atrial fibrillation, hypertension, pacemakers and implanted defibrillators, telemedicine, and education using unique methods for educating our cardiology and internal medicine trainees.
Daniel Edmundowicz, MD, MS, FACC