New resuscitation machines used in regional cardiac care centre
December 3, 2014 – John Vinklers is sitting in the cafeteria at Rouge Valley Centenary (RVC) with his wife. A cardiac patient at the hospital, he has just completed his cardiovascular rehabilitation session for the day. He is talking about his regular routine of walking and doing weights. Nothing out of the ordinary, except for the fact that he realizes he could very well not be sitting here.
Early in 2014, after experiencing symptoms such as shortness of breath for over a year, Vinklers consulted his doctor. Further testing confirmed that he had a blocked artery in his heart. He was referred to the regional cardiac care centre based at RVC for an angioplasty to clear the blockage.
During the procedure, while interventional cardiologist Dr. Chris Li was working on him, Vinklers’ left main coronary artery became completely blocked—a rare complication. He was suffering a cardiac arrest, or a code blue, and had no pulse.
“In these cases, with a blockage like this, you want to open up the artery to get the heart going again,” explains Dr. Li. “You can’t do CPR with a nurse or doctor on top of the patient’s chest doing compressions, and use the x-ray machine you need for completing the angioplasty at the same time.”
Fortunately, the cardiac team was able to use a new piece of resuscitation equipment that Rouge Valley had recently acquired, the AutoPulse, to bring Vinklers back. The AutoPulse is a non-invasive medical support pump, which is now available in the catheterization labs at the regional cardiac centre, as well as the adjoining coronary care unit (CCU) where cardiac patients in critical condition are hospitalized. The device delivers consistent, high-quality circumferential chest compressions that allows for improved blood flow without interruptions. It also provides staff better access to the patient during resuscitation, resulting in improved outcomes for someone who goes into cardiac arrest—as in this case.
“The AutoPulse allowed me to continue to do the angioplasty simultaneously with the CPR, for over an hour,” says Dr. Li. “Without it, we would have had to take turns performing CPR and the angioplasty. In the vast majority of these cases, the patient does not survive.”
Dr. Li also acknowledges the expertise and training of the cardiac team, pointing out that it is extremely challenging to perform an angioplasty while the AutoPulse is compressing and contracting a patient’s chest. “The AutoPulse was just the beginning of saving Mr. Vinklers. While we do need state-of-the-art equipment, this is in addition to having a highly-skilled team of medical experts to provide care,” he adds.
Vinklers recognizes the skill that was involved in saving him. “Dr. Li brought me through, after three hours of problems with my heart,” he says.
Dr. Li is grateful that the clinical team can improve patient outcomes by having access to the AutoPulse, which they have used two or three times a month since last spring. “This highlights the investment the hospital has been making in purchasing state-of-the art equipment,” he says. “In Mr. Vinklers’ case, we used it immediately. Between that and the intensive care unit and CCU teams’ dedicated and expert care, we had a good outcome,” he adds.
Now, John Vinklers smiles as he walks out of the hospital to head home with his wife. A good outcome indeed.