St. David's HealthCare and Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Announce International Center for Training, Research and Treatment of Heart

AUSTIN, Texas, May 1 /PRNewswire/ -- St. David's HealthCare, along with Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia, announced today the development of the Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute (TCAI) at St. David's Medical Center. TCAI -- an international treatment, training and research center specializing in heart rhythm disorders -- is the first of its kind in the U.S.

Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia, an Austin-based cardiac electrophysiology group that is a division of Texas Cardiovascular and the largest private practice electrophysiology group in the U.S., recruited and hired world-renowned cardiac electrophysiologist Andrea Natale, M.D., FACC, FHRS, as a partner in the practice. Natale will serve as TCAI's executive medical director.

"Recruiting renowned researchers and physicians to Texas, like Dr. Natale, spurs further growth of the state's health care industry and contributes to our overall competitiveness in the global marketplace," Texas Governor Rick Perry said. "The addition of Dr. Natale and the establishment of the Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute at St. David's Medical Center positions Central Texas as a leader in heart health care in Texas and across the country."

Heart rhythm disorders (arrhythmias) are problems that affect the electrical system, or "wiring," of the heart muscle. Heart arrhythmias are very common; experts say that millions of people will experience an abnormal heart rhythm some time during their lives.

Natale treats patients from around the world for abnormal heart rhythms (or Atrial Fibrillation). He was a member of the Cardiovascular Medicine Department at the Cleveland Clinic from 1999 to October 2007, serving most recently as section head for the Department of Cardiac Pacing and Electrophysiology and as medical director for the Cleveland Clinic's Center for Atrial Fibrillation. In 2006, Natale was named to the Food and Drug Administration's Task Force on Atrial Fibrillation and recently received a patent for a device used to modify the part of the heart that causes Atrial Fibrillation.

In addition to Natale, the team of electrophysiologists with Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia and TCAI includes Shane M. Bailey, M.D.; Robert C. Canby, M.D., F.A.C.C.; Rodney P. Horton M.D.; G. Joseph Gallinghouse, M.D.; Larry D. Price, D.O.; Javier E. Sanchez, M.D.; and Jason D. Zagrodzky, M.D. The addition of Dr. Natale solidifies Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia as arguably one of the leading electrophysiology groups in the world.

Born in Siracusa, Italy, Natale graduated from the Medical School of the University of Firenze, Italy, in 1985. After graduating from the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Rome, Italy, he completed his clinical training in cardiology at the University of Wisconsin's Sinai Samaritan Medical Center and the University of Western Ontario. He has written or co-written hundreds of published studies on pacing and electrophysiology.

"The future of treatment for Atrial Fibrillation, an increasingly common heart rhythm disorder, is at the Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute," Jon Foster, chief executive officer, St. David's HealthCare, said. "We already treat more patients than anyone else in the region for this disorder and serve as an international training magnet for the medical community, teaching other physicians the latest techniques; with the addition of Dr. Natale, we will be able to significantly broaden the patient and physician base that we serve."

The "Silent Killer"

Atrial Fibrillation (A Fib), known as the "silent killer" because it often goes unnoticed, is a disorder found in roughly 2.2 million Americans. During A Fib, the heart's two small upper chambers (the atria) quiver instead of beating effectively. Blood isn't pumped completely out of them, so it may pool and clot. If a piece of a blood clot in the atria leaves the heart and becomes lodged in an artery in the brain, a stroke results.

Traditionally, patients diagnosed with A Fib take blood thinning medications to prevent blood clots from forming in the heart. Current blood thinning medications require frequent monitoring and have diet and other drug interactions causing many patients to discontinue use of the medication.

At TCAI, patients are treated with the latest technology. The Institute is one of only two in the country with both the Hansen Robot and a state-of-the-art Stereotaxis lab for the treatment of heart rhythm disorders.

The American Heart Association estimates that 20 percent of all strokes result from A Fib and are usually more debilitating due to the larger size of the clots. A person with A Fib has a six-fold increased risk of stroke versus patients with normal heart rhythm. The likelihood of developing A Fib increases with age, affecting roughly three to five percent of people over age 65.

International Training Facility

TCAI is the only one of its kind dedicated to the teaching of all aspects of electrophysiology (EP) to cardiac healthcare providers from around the globe. The educational programs have been approved by the appropriate agencies to offer continuing education credits for nurses and allied health professionals, as well as CMEs for physicians.

Hands-on EP classes are offered in Austin at TCAI. Satellite classes are offered at EP labs throughout the U.S. and Latin America.

To date, the TCAI team has conducted dozens of training events for physicians and medical staff from around the country.

Research

To date, Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia has conducted 100 clinical trials including a number of National Institute of Health (NIH) trials.

"Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia has a nationwide reputation for excellence in performing clinical trials; the practice has long been sought after to conduct clinical trials on a variety of subjects in the area of cardiac electrophysiology," Robert C. Canby, M.D., F.A.C.C., said, "With the development of the Institute, we anticipate significant growth in research and clinical trials."

St. David's HealthCare

St. David's HealthCare's total capital investment related to the Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute is approximately $36 million. The initial capital investment is $8 million for new technology and Institute infrastructure, $6 million for a hospital renovation project on the second floor where Institute patients receive care and another $22 million for a critical care patient tower that is currently in the planning stages. With the $36 million capital investment in TCAI, St. David's HealthCare will have invested more than $680 million in Central Texas in the last 10 years.

St. David's HealthCare is the fourth-largest private employer in the Austin area, with more than 6,200 employees and $2.3 billion in annual gross revenues. In 2007, St. David's HealthCare was voted one of Austin's "Best Places to Work" by the Austin Business Journal. For more information about St. David's HealthCare or its hospitals: St. David's North Austin Medical Center, St. David's Round Rock Medical Center, St. David's South Austin Hospital, St. David's Medical Center, St. David's Georgetown Hospital, and St. David's Rehabilitation Hospital, please visit http://www.stdavids.com.

Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia/Texas Cardiovascular

Founded in 1996 by Rodney P. Horton, M.D., Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia, now a division of Texas Cardiovascular, has performed thousands of electrophysiology procedures and cared for thousands of patients, providing state-of-the-art care in Texas as well as in Central and South America. The team participates in clinical research, offering patients the latest technology while ensuring that physicians remain on the cutting edge. For more information about clinics throughout Austin and surrounding countries, as well as in Waco, Bryan, College Station, San Angelo, Temple, Killeen, Corpus Christi, Laredo and Odessa -- please visit http://www.TCAheart.com.

Founded in 1995, Texas Cardiovascular believes the successful delivery of effective cardiovascular care and health management depends on the establishment of a close working relationship with the patient, the availability of all of the latest diagnostic technologies, and physicians trained in all state-of-the-art techniques to prevent and treat cardiovascular disease. With more than 35 physicians and seven full-time offices, Texas Cardiovascular cares for patients throughout Central Texas and statewide.

SOURCE St. David's HealthCare; Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute

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