The cardiac care team at Penrose-St. Francis Health Services is not only well educated and compassionate, it is highly synergistic and technologically innovative – just ask Interventional Cardiologist Dr. Christian M. Simpfendorfer, MD, FACC.
“I appreciate the collegiality we have here in the cardiovascular services,” he said. Penrose-St. Francis is part of the Centura Health Heart and Vascular Network, the region’s leading provider of cardiovascular care.
Dr. Simpfendorfer works primarily with structural heart disease patients: those with congenital defects and valve and vessel abnormalities. “That area has had the greatest growth and change in terms of therapies we can offer in adult cardiology.”
While his case load is specific, Dr. Simpfendorfer values collaboration with a variety of cardiac care specialists at Penrose-St. Francis for the sake of his patients’ health. “It’s quite unique to get to work with different subspecialties in a community hospital setting, while providing the latest technologies,” he said. “It’s been rewarding the last three years to see where we’ve come, and I’m excited about where we’ll go.”
Though the team at Penrose-St. Francis has been able to perform Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) procedures for several years – a less-invasive surgical option for high-risk patients – Dr. Simpfendorfer said he’s proud of how the program’s escalated to be able to care for a greater breadth of patients.
“We performed 62 TAVRs in 2015,” he said. “We do anticipate that in the next two years the technology should be available for the intermediate- and low-risk categories. As these technologies continue to advance, we can offer patients less invasive approaches with lower risk and quicker recovery. For example, with the old surgical aortic valve replacement, it was five to seven days in the hospital for most patients, and now it’s about 48 hours. We have also started our MitraClip program for minimally invasive treatment of mitral insufficiency in patients with high surgical risk."
This year, Penrose-St. Francis also moved to conscious sedation for aortic valve replacement procedures, meaning patients can bypass the Intensive Care Unit and head directly to the post anesthesia care unit. “These patients never have to be on a respirator and are often up and walking the same day, if they’re a morning procedure,” Dr. Simpfendorfer said. “This helps us get patients out of the hospital and back home where they can recover quickly.”
Going forward, Dr. Simpfendorfer anticipates adding the revolutionary WATCHMAN Left Atrial Appendage Closure Device to Penrose-St. Francis’s repertoire of cardiac treatment options. The device was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in early 2016 and can help lower the risk of stroke for patients with atrial fibrillation. “We hope to have it as an option for our patients in next 12 months,” Dr. Simpfendorfer said.