Getting heart patients back up and running again

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Washington Hospital welcome Dr. A. Reza Abrishamchian to the cardiac and thoracic specialty team of surgeons at the hospital.


Abrishamchian, a cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon, joined the Cardiothoracic Surgical Department last spring. He is board certified by the American Board of Surgery and the American Board of Thoracic Surgery.


While Abrishamchian offers surgical procedures such as traditional open-heart surgery and valve replacements, he has a special interest in performing minimally invasive cardiothoracic surgical procedures on qualifying patients.


“The minimally invasive approach provides the patient with the opportunity to experience a shorter stay in the hospital, quicker recovery time and will enable them to return to his or her place of employment in half the time of traditional surgery,” Abrishamchian said. “Minimally invasive procedures are discussed and offered to my patients who medically qualify. During our consultation, we will determine if my patient is a candidate for this type of procedure.”


Recently, Abrishamchian conducted a minimally invasive procedure on a marathon runner. The runner’s passion became complicated when he started experiencing symptoms such as severe shortness of breath. After the consultation, it was determined that the patient suffered from severe blockage of the aortic valve, which regulates the flow from one of the four chambers of the heart into the aorta, which is the body’s largest artery.


“He was in need of an aortic valve replacement, requiring open heart surgery, and typically this would call for separating the entire breast bone,” said Abrishamchian. However, it was determined that the patient was a candidate for a minimally invasive aortic valve replacement. This method intends to keep the incision size limited to a half, or even a third of the traditional open-heart incision size required, as well as keeping the breast bone intact without separation. The patient did very well during the postoperative period and was discharged home four days after the operation. He had started his return to running before he left the hospital, having already walked one mile in the ICU before discharge. He returned to limited activities within days of the surgical procedure.


To help assist with the recovery of cardiothoracic surgeries, On-Q PainBuster with On-Q® SliverSoaker™ is available.


“I discuss use of this system with my patients. It automatically and continuously delivers a local anesthetic to relieve post-operative pain through an antimicrobial SilvaGard® catheter. This system provides better pain relief than with narcotics alone. Similar to minimally invasive procedures, my patient can experience a more comfortable recovery, faster return to normal activity, and may reduce the stay in the hospital,” Abrishamchian said.


“As I meet with many of my patients, they will ask why they are experiencing cardiovascular or thoracic symptoms. There are many factors, ranging from family genetics, lifestyle, weight and active use of tobacco products. I am quick to remind my patients that everything you do to your body matters. We are each responsible for our own health,” Abrishamchian noted. He recommends practicing proper eating habits and diet, including the all-important portion control and active lifestyle.


According to Abrishamchian, “There is still a lot that can be done to provide improvements to patient cardiovascular and thoracic care. Since the 1980s we have been donating information to the National Data Bank. This information is then shared with patients as a way to provide the latest information and advancements in patient care. Our goal is to get our patients back up and running.”


To set up an appointment with Abrishamchian, contact Three Rivers Cardiac Institute at 724-228-8585 or visit washingtonhealthsystem.org.


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