Cardiologist Charles Itty will provide interventional cardiology at the Lismore Base Hospital.
Cardiologist Charles Itty will provide interventional cardiology at the Lismore Base Hospital. Marc Stapelberg

It's easier to save lives

MORE than 1500 angiograms have been completed at the catheter lab at Lismore Base Hospital since it opened in 2010.

Two years ago patients identified as having high-risk cardiac problems could expect an agonising two-week wait for a hospital bed in Sydney or Brisbane for an accurate diagnosis.

The need for an advanced diagnostic service at the hospital was identified a decade earlier but it wasn't until 2010 that the service was introduced, with the $4 million construction of the Cardiac Catheter Laboratory.

"We are a high retirement area on the north coast, and the aging population has a high demand for cardiac services," cardiologist Dr Drew Mumford said.

Angiography involves the injection of a dye into the patient's arteries and using it to identify the existence and severity of a coronary blockage to pinpoint the appropriate treatment.

The introduction of angiogram capabilities to the hospital allowed doctors to prioritise patients needing urgent surgery and cut down their waiting times in line with metro hospitals.

Now with the second phase expansion of the catheter lab in February, new cardiologist Dr Charles Itty has been providing cardiac patients with life-saving interventional procedures.

Typically this involves the insertion of a stent, a small device that opens the artery passage and can prevent heart attacks, into the patient's blocked artery.

Since the new procedure began in March, more than 35 cases have been completed. "By getting in and doing this early we're preventing heart attacks and it's a non-invasive approach, only requiring a day in hospital," acting hospital general manager Dan Madden said.