JOURNAL ARTICLE

Humanitarian cardiac care in Arequipa, Peru: experiences of a multidisciplinary Canadian cardiovascular team

Corey Adams, Philipp Kiefer, Kenneth Ryan, David Smith, Greg McCabe, Peter Allen, Kumar Sridhar, Pedro Torres, Michael W A Chu
Canadian Journal of Surgery. Journal Canadien de Chirurgie 2012, 55 (3): 171-6
22630071

BACKGROUND: The prevalence of cardiovascular disease and its associated mortality continue to increase in developing countries despite unparalleled improvements in cardiovascular medicine over the last century. Cardiovascular care in developing nations is often constrained by limited resources, poor access, lack of specialty training and inadequate financial support. Medical volunteerism by experienced health care teams can provide mentorship, medical expertise and health policy advice to local teams and improve cardiovascular patient outcomes.

METHODS: We report our experience from annual successive humanitarian medical missions to Arequipa, Peru, and describe the challenges faced when performing cardiovascular interventions with limited resources.

RESULTS: Over a 2-year period, we performed a total of 15 cardiac repairs in patients with rheumatic, congenital and ischemic heart disease. We assessed and managed 150 patients in an outpatient clinic, including 7 patients at 1-year postoperative follow-up.

CONCLUSION: Despite multiple challenges, we were able to help the local team deliver advanced cardiovascular care to many patients with few alternatives and achieve good early and 1-year outcomes. Interdisciplinary education at all levels of cardiac care, including preoperative assessment, intraoperative surgical and anesthetic details, and postoperative critical care management, were major goals for our medical missions.

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