Lives are saved in “the heart of the shire”

It is impossible to know how many lives have been saved by the Sutherland Heart Clinic.

World class: Sutherland Heart Clinic's Dr Mark Pitney said patients will get the same treatment as any of the great heart hospitals in the world. Picture: John Veage

World class: Sutherland Heart Clinic's Dr Mark Pitney said patients will get the same treatment as any of the great heart hospitals in the world. Picture: John Veage

Since opening ten years ago the Sutherland Heart Clinic has performed more than 22,500 procedures, avoiding the need for shire residents to travel out of the area for urgent treatment.

Clinic head, Dr Mark Pitney said the figure shows how vital the service is for the best interests of Sutherland Shire residents.

“It is impossible to know how many lives of shire residents have been saved because they did not have to travel out of the area for treatment following a heart attack,’’ he said.

‘’The community needs to understand that cardiovascular disease is still the number one killer. It’s not only for old people, it’s also affects young people.

“Over the past ten years since the clinic opened we have realised the importance of the very rapid treatment of people with heart attacks.

‘’We now understand that there’s a lot of benefit if we treat people early.

‘’When you have a heart attack the first hour is important. Time is of the essence. There is a better chance for the heart muscle to recover.

“Treatment needs to be available 24/7. That’s why we encourage people to come in straight away if they get chest pains.

“We had a case where a man having a large heart attack was sitting at home telling his wife he would be okay.

‘’She Googled his symptoms, made the correct diagnosis and bought him into hospital.

“When we confirmed his heart attack, he was initially much more concerned about what his wife was going to say rather than the risk of the heart attack.

“All went well. There were plenty of lessons to be learnt there including always listen to your wife.”

Sutherland Hospital had 2,200 people admitted with heart problems last year.

Calling itself “the heart of the shire”, the clinic is co-located within the hospital and has two theatres, seven recovery beds  and 10 coronary care beds.

There are 18 cardiologists, 10 anaesthetists, 26 nurses, two radiographers, four admin staff and two operations assistants.

The clinic has a new $1million Cardiac Catheter Lab X-ray machine and has upgraded its second machine.

‘’If someone is brought into the emergency department at night with a suspected heart attack there are two doctors, three nurses and a radiographer on standby,’’ Dr Pitney said.

“Sutherland Hospital has an amazing cardio unit with world class machinery and shire residents can feel comfortable with the fact that even though cardiovascular disease is still the number one killer, they will get treated as well as someone living next to St Vincent’s Hospital.

“Heart problems are common. We want people to come to the hospital early and reassure them if they come here they will be treated well.

‘’“If you get a chest pain don’t muck around. Get to the hospital. You will be treated no differently as if they went to any famous heart hospital in the world.

‘’You should never be embarrassed if you have chest pains and it doesn’t turn out to be a heart problem.

‘’If people come and and we say it’s not your heart, you can go home without being embarrassed.

‘’Or if you come in at 1am in the morning and need a stent you will get it in an hour.’’

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