Doctor calls for more cardiovascular services at MSJMC

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By Kadeem Joseph

A medical practitioner is calling for a greater focus on preventing and addressing cardiovascular-related ailments, which are the leading causes of death in Antigua and Barbuda.

Antiguan and Barbudan physician, Dr Elric Winter, who is a consultant cardiologist in Canada, said the present services specific to cardiovascular diseases are “inadequate”.

“Antigua has a population of approximately 100,000 people. And with a population of that size, you need a cardiovascular service. And with a cardiac service you should have, for 100,000 people, at least four cardiologists,” he said. 

There are no cardiologists presently working at the Mount St John’s Medical Centre (MSJMC), which is the country’s only public hospital. However, patients with these ailments are managed by internal medicine consultant doctors, who are not specialists in the area.

“I would strongly suggest that there be a cardiac service established as soon as possible,” Dr Winter added.

He suggested that each of the four cardiologists would be responsible for different aspects of patient care to include emergency cases and the critical care unit, stress testing, conducting echocardiograms and cases in the clinic. 

The Canadian-based doctor is also calling for the establishment of a disease prevention clinic at the hospital.

“So that you can have not just the cardiologist… you have the cardiologist, the family physician, the dietitian, the nurse, psychologist, and these are all part of the team of preventive medicine in general and preventive cardiology,” he added. 

Dr Winter is in Antigua and Barbuda as part of the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s calendar of events for Heart Disease Awareness Month.

The body, which hosted a symposium for medical stakeholders at the Trade Winds Hotel on February 22, was launched on February 3.

Approximately 80 health care workers attended the event.

Foundation president, cardiologist Dr Georgette Meade, is urging the public, both young and old, to “take control” of their health.

“I think we’re a bit lackadaisical about it, or sort of put it on the back burner. I want you to take control of your health. Do get check-ups,” she admonished. “Hypertension is only diagnosed when the blood pressure is done. And you may be walking around with a very high blood pressure and not be aware of it because it’s never been checked.”

She said preventative measures are crucial to reducing the incidences of cardiovascular disease.Cardiovascular diseases are conditions which may affect the proper function of the heart and include abnormal heart rhythms, heart failure, coronary artery disease and heart valve disease.

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