UH Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute's Shock Team Saves Lives

The UH Shock Team
Members of The UH Shock Team, including Francis (Ted) Lytle, MD (center).

When 55-year-old Richard Mack began exhibiting signs of cardiogenic shock, his cardiologist called the UH Shock Team. Over the following three weeks, extraordinary measures would be used to save his life, demonstrating the power of advanced care and collaboration.

Cardiogenic shock occurs when the heart cannot sufficiently deliver oxygenated blood to the body’s organs. Not all hospitals are equipped to treat this condition, so Richard was transported via helicopter to UH Cleveland Medical Center where the UH Shock Team gathered, ready to begin life-saving care.

The UH Shock Team comprises specialists in the areas of emergency medicine, critical care, interventional cardiology, heart failure and cardiac surgery, as well as physician assistants, perfusionists, nurses and respiratory therapists.

UH cardiac surgery provided mechanical circulatory support and heart pump placement
UH cardiac surgery provided mechanical circulatory support and heart pump placement.

On-call shock team members are activated through a single call to the UH Transfer Center. Team members listen to the patient’s condition, then determine the best course of action through pre-established protocols. For Richard, that included mechanical circulatory support in the form of Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) and the Impella® heart pump – a percutaneous (through the skin) mechanical device. Used together, these procedures – performed by UH Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute cardiac surgeons Alan Markowitz, MD, and Benjamin Medalion, MD – provided Richard’s best chance for recovery. Dr. Markowitz is Chief Surgical Officer and Co-Director, Valve & Structural Heart Disease Center, Interim Chief, Division of Adult Cardiac Surgery and Marcella “Dolly” Haugh Chair in Valvular Surgery. Dr. Medalion is Director, Mechanical Circulatory Support and Surgical Co-Director, Advanced Heart Failure & Transplant Center.

“We’ve conducted outreach within the system and to cardiac programs outside of UH,” said Michael Zacharias, DO, Medical Director, Mechanical Circulatory Support, UH Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute. “By informing referring physicians of the quaternary care available at UH, we are saving lives that may not have been saved before.”

In 2018, UH established a new Center of Excellence – the Hambrick Center for Cardiac Recovery at UH Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute – to advance cardiogenic shock care.

According to Francis (Ted) Lytle, MD, Medical Director, Cardiothoracic Intensive Care, UH Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute and Division Chief, Critical Care Medicine at UH Cleveland Medical Center, “The cardiogenic shock program emphasizes the collaboration of the team, and Mr. and Mrs. Mack were active members of the team by being engaged in the care process. It was an honor to care for Mr. Mack, and we could not be happier with the outcome.”

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