In July 1996, officials at Johns Hopkins Medicine, Suburban Hospital, and the National Institutes of Health, located across the street from Suburban Hospital, initiated a formal affiliation to enhance the region's health care services. This unique alliance brings world-class research from the bench to the bedside and provides the local community with round-the-clock access to the most advanced diagnostic and treatment protocols for stroke and heart attack.
Suburban Hospital's busy Emergency/Trauma Center, which currently serves more than 40,000 patients a year, provides an ideal milieu in which The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and The National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke (NINDS) can undertake community-based evaluation of the research breakthroughs that come out of their laboratories. This one-of-a-kind opportunity for translational research is made possible by Suburban Hospital's close proximity to the NIH campus.
Cardiovascular disease, which includes heart disease and stroke, is the leading cause of death, accounting for nearly 40 percent of those who die each year. Our rapidly aging population makes it imperative that we find new ways to treat both disease processes, so that more may live longer, and live a higher quality of life.
In 1996, Suburban Hospital began performing primary acute angioplasty in its Cardiac Cath Lab as a designated facility in a Johns Hopkins cardiac clinical trial called C-PORT (Cardiovascular Patient Outcomes Research Team). The study compared the effectiveness of angioplasty with clot-dissolving drugs. Suburban Hospital was the first community hospital in Maryland authorized to perform this procedure without cardiac surgery backup. As a result of the trial, angioplasty is now standard practice for treating patients with acute myocardial infarction (heart attack) nationwide.
In 1999, Suburban Hospital and the National Institutes of Health initiated the NIH-Suburban MRI Center, a Heart and Stroke Research and Care Program. The opening of the Center, located at Suburban Hospital, marked the beginning of a unique study to evaluate the use of sophisticated magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in diagnosing heart attack, coronary artery disease and stroke in emergency room patients. At the time the MRI Center opened, Suburban Hospital was the only community hospital, and one of fewer than 50 facilities in the world, with this level of imaging technology.
Correct diagnosis and prompt treatment are essential for the survival of heart attack patients. Yet because the science has been imprecise, many patients are prematurely released from hospitals, only to have their heart attacks at home. Scientists involved in the NIH-Suburban Hospital Cardiac Research Initiative have been using normal volunteers and chest-pain patients from Suburban Hospital's Emergency/Trauma Center to evaluate numerous methods to diagnose heart attacks faster and more accurately. The initial results suggest that MRI technology fulfills that objective, paving the way for faster treatment that could reduce or prevent permanent heart damage. The NIH-Suburban Hospital study lays the groundwork for what could be a dramatic change in how heart attacks are diagnosed and how rapidly patients receive treatment.
And finally, Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery Keith Horvath, M.D., was among the first in the country to inject adult stem cells into a patient’s heart muscle during cardiac surgery to stimulate new blood vessel growth. Several Suburban Hospital patients have already benefited from this procedure. Click here to read the story of Michael Downs, a patient of Dr. Horvath's who had stem cell treatment after many years of suffering from cardiovascular disease.
With the launch of the NIH Heart Center at Suburban Hospital, we have brought the clinical and scientific excellence of the National Institutes of Health and Johns Hopkins Medicine to our community-based cardiac surgery program. In addition to state-of-the-art cardiac surgery and angioplasty, the NIH Heart Center offers patients easy access to advanced cardiovascular therapies, provides training for the next generation of cardiac surgeons and cardiologists, and, through ground-breaking research, contributes to improvements in the treatment of cardiac disease worldwide.