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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Valley Hospital adds new cardiac test

Valley Hospital has expanded services to heart patients with a new diagnostic testing procedure.

The hospital recently started offering cardiac catheterization, which helps doctors detect blocked arteries in the heart, and allows them to measure the heart’s blood flow and pressure in the chambers.

Valley Hospital, which is part of the Rockwood Health System, is the only Spokane Valley facility offering the testing, said Greg Repetti, the hospital’s chief executive officer.

The hospital serves about 100,000 people in the greater Spokane Valley area. It’s part of the Rockwood System, which also includes Deaconess Hospital and Rockwood Clinic.

Valley Hospital officials decided to offer cardiac catheterization after evaluating the community’s population trends, including the number of senior residents, and the number of Spokane Valley heart patients being sent to downtown Spokane for the diagnostic testing.

“For the most part, people in the Valley don’t want to go downtown to get services,” Repetti said. Offering the cardiac testing locally saves patients a 15- to 20-minute drive and the hunt for parking in Spokane’s medical district, he said.

Cardiac catheterization is “the gold standard” for determining a course of treatment for heart patients, said Dr. David Jones, medical director for cardiology.

The diagnostic testing is used after a patient has demonstrated symptoms of heart trouble, such as chest pains, shortness of breath or poor performance on a stress test.

Patients are sedated and hollow plastic tubes are inserted into the femoral artery. The tubes are advanced to the heart, allowing doctors to measure the blood flow and pressure in the heart. In addition, a contrast dye can be injected, which allows doctors to see blocked arteries through X-rays. The procedure typically lasts 15 to 20 minutes, Jones said.

The procedure results help doctors determine whether to prescribe medication or schedule patients for more extensive treatment, such as stents or an angioplasty to unplug clogged arteries.

Cardiac catheterizations have been performed at Valley Hospital since late May. Jones anticipates that up to 10 per month will be done at the hospital, based on projected demand. Only patients whose condition is stable can get the testing done at Valley Hospital.

“If you’re having a heart attack, you’re still going to go downtown,” Jones said.

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