Boosting Heart Attack Survival in Portage County

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Interventional cardiologist Anjan Gupta, MD, a "Dinner with the Doc" winner, has turned the program around at UH Portage Medical Center

UH Clinical Update | June 2021

In Portage County and the surrounding area, the interventional cardiology program at UH Portage Medical Center has become the destination of choice, both for patients and for EMS teams transporting patients in the midst of a suspected heart attack.

Five years ago, that wasn’t the case.

Before it joined the UH system, the hospital did not have a fully functional catheterization lab, so EMS teams often transported patients to a hospital in Akron or even sometimes to UH Cleveland Medical Center. As a result, door-to-balloon times could sometimes go as high as 120 minutes.

That all changed with the arrival of interventional cardiologist Anjan Gupta, MD, at UH Portage Medical Center in 2016.

Anjan Gupta, MD, UH PortageAnjan Gupta, MD

“When Robinson became part of UH, we wanted to create a program to provide high-quality service for patients close to home,” Dr. Gupta says. “That’s why I was recruited, and we started an interventional cardiology program here at UH Portage. We started doing STEMI interventions back in 2016, and it’s been a very successful program. We have not only been able to serve the people in Portage County and the immediate vicinity of Ravenna, but we’re now getting patients from Akron, Canton and the Youngstown area.”

Volumes for interventional cardiology and electrophysiology procedures at UH Portage have skyrocketed under Dr. Gupta’s leadership, from about 300 per year several years ago to 1,400 to 1,600 procedures per year today. Dr. Gupta and his team also perform peripheral vascular procedures to open leg and kidney arteries, including cases of deep vein thrombosis, and are part of a multidisciplinary Pulmonary Embolism Response Team (PERT) that offers 24/7 coverage for Portage County patients facing that life-threatening emergency.

To help care for this increased influx of patients, Dr. Gupta has also expanded his staff, adding interventional cardiologists Myttle Mayuga, MD, Ahmed Mahmoud, MD, and cardiac electrophysiologist Antonio Sotolongo, MD. Dr. Mayuga and Dr. Sotolongo were both fellows at UH Cleveland Medical Center before joining the medical staff at UH Portage.

Dr. Gupta says he’s gratified to be a part of meeting such an important need for a local community.

“The people of Portage County like to stay close to home,” he says. “They don’t like traveling all the way to Cleveland or Akron. We have been able to provide high-quality cardiac services close to home, and that has attracted a lot of the patients to stay there. We used to lose a lot of patients to Summa and Akron General, but we have gotten a lot of those patients back. We keep growing, we keep expanding. It’s been phenomenal.”

Dr. Gupta was recently recognized by UH CEO Cliff Megerian, MD, for this work and for his exemplary service as a UH physician caregiver, earning a “Dinner with the Doc” award. However, not content to rest on his laurels, Dr. Gupta says there are more plans for new service lines and new expansions in the works at UH Portage.

“We actually are going to expand to provide services by offering EP studies and simple ablations in the next few months or so,” he says. “That will be quite unique to the program.”

Dr. Gupta, who holds the endowed position of Heisler Family - A. Roger Tsai, MD, Master Clinician in Cardiology, is also helping to raise funds for a second catheterization lab at UH Portage Medical Center.

“Our hope is that with the recruitment of the two interventional cardiologists and with Dr. Sotolongo doing the EP procedures, we may be able to double our volume with the new lab,” he says. “We are also hoping to expand to the surrounding areas, going up to Salem and Warren to expand our reach, providing high-quality care in those areas, too.”

One key factor to understanding the incredible turnaround story in interventional cardiology at UH Portage is that all-important metric: door-to-balloon time. Under Dr. Gupta’s leadership, what was once 80 to 90 minutes is now 50 to 60. They’ve even posted a couple of eye-popping UH system records, at six and eight minutes.

Dr. Gupta credits his entire cath lab team, as well as the ED physicians and staff.

“That has been an effort from the whole group – the staff and nurses in the cath lab, the ED – we work as a team together,” he says. “Everyone knows their role and what is to be done.”

Another factor behind Dr. Gupta’s success is the special effort he has made to address an important local constituency – fire stations and their EMS teams. He has invited EMS workers into the cath lab to observe an interventional cardiology procedure in real time. He has also visited stations in Kent, Ravenna, Aurora and Mantua, sometimes accompanied by the recovered patient who the team transported to the hospital.

“It’s nice for the fire station to get that feedback,” Dr. Gupta says. “They see the patient so sick, and it’s great to see the patient walking back into the fire station. I give a little talk on what we did and the rationale behind it. They feel very involved in the care of the patient. This all has increased the number of patients that they are bringing to UH Portage. I like teaching, so it’s nice to be able to teach them and give them feedback on what they have done right and how we can get an even better outcome next time.”

As he completes five years at UH and UH Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute, Dr. Gupta says two main things keep him engaged – the opportunity to make a difference for patients and the chance to practice medicine as part of a coordinated, efficient health system like UH.

“When I save a patient who is basically dying in front of my eyes, and I can do something to change the course of their disease process, that’s all I need,” he says. “When they walk back into my office, that’s the biggest thing to me. We are able to get these outcomes because we work as a system together. UH Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute is one system. We have the same protocols, we have the same quality care everywhere. I enjoy working at UH because of the team approach, the system approach that we take in caring for our patients.”

Congratulations for Dr. Gupta on this well-earned award.

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