cardiac

ABC News: Having Heart Surgery Is Like Flying

by Columbia Surgery on July 10, 2014

On July 10th, Dr.Michael Argenziano, Chief of Adult Cardiac Surgery wrote a guest post for the ABC News Blog on why he became a heart surgeon:

I’m a cardiac surgeon. I’m lots of other things, of course-a husband, father, and Little League coach-but I’ve spent the 30 years since high school graduation essentially working toward one goal, to become the best cardiac surgeon I can be.

Cardiac surgery appealed to me because it was a chance to make a real, measurable impact on the lives of people every single day, helping people out of literally life-threatening situations. As much as I enjoy this, it is the impact that these operations have on their extended families that is most gratifying. I am reminded of the importance of human life every day when I walk into the family waiting room after performing surgery, to find as many as dozens of people, usually from multiple generations, waiting on pins and needles to learn if their family member is going to be OK. Having endured illness and death in my own family, I can never forget that what for me is just one of hundreds of operations I perform each year, for that patient and family is one of the most significant and terrifying moments in their lives. I consider it the ultimate privilege to be trusted with that patient’s life.

When Dr. Mehmet Oz and I met Mr. Carratala, the nervousness, uncertainty, and fear that this street-toughened police detective felt was palpable in the room. He, like most of us, was used to being healthy and in control of his life and surroundings. But he had suffered the unimaginable-a stroke-while on vacation, and in a whirlwind of doctor’s visits and invasive tests learned that he harbored a life-threatening defect in his heart. An abnormal hole in the wall between two of the heart’s chambers had allowed what would normally be a harmless speck of clot to cross over to the left side of his heart and be pumped to his brain.

We explained that although he would need open-heart surgery to close the hole and prevent another stroke, we’d be able to do this minimally invasively, through only a small incision between his ribs. This small consolation seemed to calm and reassure him, although I think what really made him and his family feel better is that we told them that the problem was fixable, and showed confidence that all would be well. Dr. Oz likes to say that the most important role of a physician is not as a healer, but as a teacher (the word “physician” means “teacher”), and I have to agree. I enjoy explaining complicated heart problems and how I’m going to fix them to patients as much as I enjoy actually doing the work. And I understand that one of my most important jobs is to take the burden of anxiety away from the patient by taking control of the situation.

I like to tell patients that having heart surgery is like flying on a commercial airliner. The risk of disaster is quite low, but that’s not because flying an airplane is easy. It’s because the pilot and his team are highly trained professionals, who repeatedly pull off the miracle of getting a 100-ton metal tube to fly in the sky without incident. That’s what heart surgery is like – you’re doing freakish things with a person, connecting them to complicated machines, stopping and opening the heart, making repairs, then starting it up again – and everyone expects it to go smoothly every time. And my kids ask me why I lost my hair…

People often ask me if I like my job, if the rewards are worth the tremendous effort and dedication. The answer usually depends on how my last patient has done, so that day the answer was yes.

Michael Argenziano, M.D., is Chief of Adult Cardiac Surgery at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, where he is also Director of Minimally Invasive Cardiac Surgery and Program Director of the Residency in Thoracic Surgery. He received his M.D. from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and completed his training in cardiothoracic surgery, mechanical cardiac assistance, and surgical electrophysiology, all at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. He is married to Maria Rodino, a Columbia-trained endocrinologist, and they have six children, the oldest of whom will be attending Columbia in the fall and plans to be a heart surgeon himself. Argenziano now appears on ABC News, “NY Med.”

Read the original posting here.

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In honor of February being “heart month,” the February 21, 2014 episode of ABC’s The View, entitled “Barbara’s Heart to Heart,” featured Emile Bacha, MD, Director, Congenital and Pediatric Cardiac Surgery at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital at NewYork-Presbyterian.

In this episode, Dr. Bacha escorts Barbara Walters through the hospital where she underwent heart surgery four years ago. She says that while most of us think of heart disease as affecting adults, babies can have heart disease too. Dr. Bacha introduces her to three such patients in the pediatric surgery ward, which treats children born with serious heart defects from before birth up to age 18.

According to Dr. Bacha, 99% of patients recover “very well” after surgery for congenital heart defects. But the team’s goal is not merely recovery. “Most are able to live normal lives and participate in sports and other activities. That is very important to us,” says Dr. Bacha.

In his typical modest style, Dr. Bacha says, “I am just the front person. The real work is done by everybody else — it truly takes a team.”

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Transplant Patient Reunites with Care Team

January 30, 2014

TweetTwenty years after receiving a heart and double-lung transplant at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, grateful patient Sean Kunzli and his family came to New York City for a celebratory reunion with his surgeon, Craig R. Smith, MD, and the team that performed this lifesaving surgery. Born with congenital heart disease, Mr. Kunzli underwent the risky […]

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Surgery for Aortic Stenosis: PARTNER Trial Update

January 25, 2014

TweetResults from PARTNER trial Cohort B show that patients with severe aortic stenosis who are unable to undergo traditional surgery for technical reasons fared better with transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) than patients who were just too sick to undergo valve surgery. Approximately 300,000 Americans have aortic stenosis, or narrowing of the aortic valve in […]

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Paul Kurlansky returns to Columbia for HeartSource and CIOR roles

January 17, 2014

TweetAssistant Professor of Clinical Surgery, NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center Director of Research, Recruitment and Continuous Quality Improvement, HeartSource Paul Kurlansky, MD, returns to the home of his post-graduate training for a dual role at Columbia HeartSource and the Center for Innovations and Outcomes Research (CIOR). Dr. Kurlansky received his baccalaureate degree from Harvard University and […]

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Concurrent Coronary Artery and Valvular Heart Disease: Hybrid Treatment Strategies in 2013

December 16, 2013

TweetA review published by Columbia University Heart Valve Center’s doctors: Kendra J Grubb, MD*; Tamim Nazif, MD; Mathew R. Williams, MD; and Isaac George, MD Having both heart valve disease and Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) is a common health problem in our aging population. Statistics show patients who have aortic stenosis frequently experience CAD symptoms […]

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TCT Conference Recap

December 9, 2013

TweetThis year marked the twenty-fifth annual Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics Conference (TCT). TCT is a yearly event where interventional cardiologists, cardiac and vascular surgeons, nurse practitioners, and other health care professionals meet to discuss the latest breakthroughs and developments in the field of interventional cardiology. This year’s conference in San Francisco had over 12,000 attendees, and […]

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Hybrid Cardiac Surgery Twitter Chat: Questions and Answers

November 14, 2013

Tweet On November 8th, 2013, @ColumbiaSurgery and @HeartValveCntr encouraged followers to ask NYP/Columbia Heart Valve Center’s doctors, Isaac George, MD, Attending Cardiac Surgeon, and Tamim M. Nazif, MD, Attending Interventional Cardiologist, about their questions and concerns during a Twitter chat, “Hybrid Cardiac Surgery: A Minimally Invasive Approach to Coronary and Valve Disease.” As promised here […]

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Hybrid Cardiac Surgery: A Minimally Invasive Approach to Coronary and Valve Disease

November 11, 2013

TweetIt is estimated that nearly 1 in 8 people over the age of seventy-five have heart valve disease. Thanks to new technology, many of the patients who were not good candidates for conventional surgery in the past, can now be treated with hybrid surgical approaches. Hybrid cardiac surgery uses both interventional and conventional cardiac procedures […]

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New Faculty Appointment: Joseph Costa, DHSc, PA-C

October 29, 2013

TweetInstructor in Clinical Surgical Sciences (in Surgery), Division of Thoracic Surgery Joseph Costa, DHSc, PA-C, is the first Physician Assistant to become a faculty member at NYP/Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He gained this historic status through a unique path that began with his position as Dr. Craig Smith’s private PA in Cardiothoracic […]

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