ELKO – Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital recently completed an upgrade to its Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory, or Cath Lab. This is the operating room where patients suffering heart attacks and other cardiac conditions are treated by the hospital’s cardiologists.

“The Cath Lab is truly a vital resource in our rural community,” said Becky Jones, the director of cardiopulmonary services at NNRH. “We have seen thousands of patients come through this room. Having a Cath Lab in Elko means that we can normally treat heart attacks here without transporting patients out of town. Transporting a cardiac patient often results in losing precious time and precious heart muscle.”

Jones stated that the decision to upgrade the Cath Lab made good sense considering how many cardiac patients are treated there. “Lives are routinely being saved in this room,” she said. “It was important to us to upgrade our technology and provide our doctors with the best tools available.”

The improvements to the Cath Lab include a new intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) machine, as well as a hemodynamic monitoring system.

“The IVUS is really valuable because it allows us to insert a tiny ultrasound scope directly into the patient’s coronary artery,” said Jones. “This allows the cardiologist to find the exact location of the occlusion and measure the percentage of the artery that is being blocked.” Jones went on to explain that this information aids the doctor in selecting the appropriate size of stent to use in order to re-open the artery and restore blood flow to the heart.

“Our new hemodynamic system also gathers data about the patient’s blood flow,” Jones said. “This data is displayed on our new high-definition monitor so that our physicians have all the information they need readily available. They are able to make informed decisions and develop a plan of care faster because the data is all right there in front of them.”

Dr. Rodney Badger, interventional cardiologist at NNRH, said that the upgrade to the Cath Lab has been very beneficial.

“We are very well outfitted here. I’ve gone to bigger hospitals in bigger cities where they didn’t have some of this equipment,” Badger said. “We have the precise tools that we need to treat our patients and do our jobs well.”

The upgrade to the Cath Lab isn’t the only new development in cardiac services at NNRH. Jones said that the hospital is now offering two new programs for cardiac patients: a pacemaker clinic and a PAD rehabilitation program.

“We’re excited to host our first pacemaker clinic on Friday, February 23rd,” Jones said. “This is an opportunity for people with pacemakers to have their devices checked by engineers from the different companies.”

She explained that the engineers can inform people how much battery life their device has remaining. They can also make adjustments to help the pacemaker run more efficiently and optimize the battery.

“The other new service that we are really happy to launch is a rehab program for patients with peripheral artery disease or PAD,” Jones said.

PAD occurs when plaque builds up in a patient’s peripheral arteries, most often in the arteries of the legs. According to the American Heart Association, the most common symptoms of the disease are cramping or extreme tiredness in the leg or hip muscles while walking. If left untreated, PAD can increase a patient’s risk of heart attack or stroke.

“Instances of PAD are on the rise, and many patients don’t even know they have it,” Jones said. “We are able to diagnose PAD here at NNRH, and now we have a program in place to help treat it.”

According to Jones, the PAD rehab program is a 12-week course for outpatients that includes 36 sessions of medically supervised exercise. “We focus on easing claudication pain, improving walking ability, and increasing the quality of life of those affected by PAD,” Jones said.

“As we celebrate American Heart Month this February, it really is an exciting time at NNRH,” Jones concluded. “Our mission has always been to make our community healthier. With this new technology and these new programs, we are able to do just that in new and improved ways.”

Those who are interested in either the pacemaker clinic or the PAD rehabilitation program can learn more by calling 775-748-2243.

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