Heart care made more accessible

HEART disease remains one of the top life-threatening health problems in the country today. Heart conditions are common among Filipinos and the surgery needed to save a patient’s life is not accessible to many, because of prohibitive costs and lack of facilities.

The Providence Hospital in Quezon City seeks to address this challenge with the inauguration of its state-of-the-art Cardiac Catherization Laboratory that was recently launched in partnership with the HB Calleja Heart Institute. With the new Cath Lab, the hospital, whose specialization is kidney treatment, will now be able to treat patients with heart diseases, as well.

The addition of the new heart-treatment center brings in more up-to-date diagnostic and therapeutic equipment to the hospital that is already providing top-of-the-line services, including digital computerized tomography (CT) scan and x-ray machines, 3D mammogram and breast ultrasound, as well as the latest laparoscopic units.

Dr. Dave B. Tan, president and CEO of Providence Hospital, said, “This is going to be a Cardiovascular Department with very advanced, sophisticated equipment that will hopefully help a lot of patients. We will continue and pursue our mission of providing very good quality care at the most affordable price, and making sure that our doctors are well-trained. They get the best experience, with the help of the HB Calleja Group, who will guide us and impart their knowledge to the hospital.”

The HB Heart Institute is committed to bringing more accessible heart health care to Filipinos not only in Manila but also in other regions. Dr. Denton Chua of HB Calleja revealed that at present, aside from their strategic partnership with Providence Hospital, they are partners with other institutions in Angeles, Batangas, Cabanatuan, Cagayan de Oro and La Union. “We want to reach more people with our services and equipment. Before, if a patient’s having a heart attack, you had to rush to big hospitals in major cities, such as Manila, Cebu or Davao. This should not be the case because with a heart attack, you only have a 90-minute window for an angiogram,” he said.

Location is not the only challenge.  Even here in Metro Manila, the cost of a heart operation is very expensive where only the top 5 percent or 10 percent of the population can afford to undergo treatment. “This is the reason so many patients see a heart condition as a death sentence hanging over their heads; they cannot afford the operation so they just try to live with it,” Chua stressed, while adding that what they are doing is trying to spread out the cost of equipment among their partner hospitals to make Cath Lab procedures more affordable. “These all started with little drawings, when we sat down with Dr. Tan several years ago, and it is very exciting to see all of these plans coming into fruition.”    

“We are immensely happy that we are formally opening the Cath Lab at Providence, as this is the place where compassion and expertise merge to have a better health-care delivery,” noted Dr. Alvin de la Cruz, head of the Cath Lab. He explained the importance of the new facility to their patients and the community especially in Metro Manila, where heart disease is still among the diseases with high mortality rate.

De la Cruz said that a lot of their patients suffer from heart attack and, in fact, there is an increasing trend in their numbers, “We used to have one heart attack patient a week, but now we have an average of three cases per week.” With the Cath Lab, they can reach more patients who no longer have to be placed on a waiting list in other health institutions.

One common misconception that people have about heart attacks comes from what they see on TV, “Recently I have had several patients in the ER who came in with chest pains. I told them that they are already having a heart attack, but they say it is still Ok and ask to be discharged. They don’t realize that if they do not undergo the necessary procedures, their next heart attack will be severe.”

One of the reasons these patients feel they don’t have to take it seriously is because they are still young, but de la Cruz said the heart patients are getting younger because of the diet and the sedentary lifestyle of the younger generation, along with other risk factors, such as smoking, that can cause the problems, especially among males.

“Females who are not in the menopausal stage are still protected against heart disease because of their estrogen.” He stressed that it is better to have a heart work-up in your 20s to prevent any heart condition and to effect a change on their lifestyle early on.      

For more information, visit www.providencehospital.com.ph or Facebook Page www.facebook.com/providencehospitalPH.


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