Providing Access to Tomorrow’s Therapies Today



Dr. Dean Kereiake medical director at The Christ Hospital

Photo provided by The Christ Hospital

When it comes to new cardiology procedures and technologies in the United States, you might be surprised to learn that a community hospital in Cincinnati is leading the way.

At the Carl and Edyth Lindner Center for Research and Education at The Christ Hospital, medical director Dr. Dean Kereiakes has assembled a team that put Cincinnati on the map and rivals big-name academic centers. 

“We’re in the top three centers in the U.S.,” says Dr. Kereiakes. “We’re consistently ahead of the game.”

The team effort includes many nationally recognized physicians specialized in various conditions and areas of cardiovascular care. In collaboration, this group has helped pioneer most of the new treatments developed over the last two decades. 

“The Lindner Research Center provides the citizens of Cincinnati access to cutting-edge technologies,” says Dr. Joel P. Reginelli, medical director of the Advanced Vascular Program at The Christ Hospital. “People don’t have to travel to gain access to tomorrow’s therapies, today.”

One such breakthrough was the SYNERGY Stent which delivers medication via a polymer that dissolves when it’s no longer needed. Traditional “medicated” or drug-eluting stents are metal mesh tubes with permanent polymer that can become the source of inflammation and blood clot formation.The first SYNERGY Stent used in the U.S. was at the Lindner Center at The Christ Hospital.

 “One of the real benefits of leading these research studies is that by the time a stent is FDA approved and commercially available, we already have years of valuable experience with the device,” explains Dr. Kereiakes. 

In November, a SYNERGY patient, 67, received the SYNERGY stent at The Christ Hospital, during the first FDA-approved procedure performed in the country. 

“They told me that my arteries were clogged up.” says the SYNERGY patient. “The procedure was pretty quick and I was awake through the whole thing. They would say ‘How do you feel, Mr. SYNERGY patient?’ and I would answer ‘Keep on doing it because I feel fine.’ Then I got to go home that same day.”

SYNERGY patient returned home and to his normal routine with no restrictions.

Another important example is the Absorb bioresorbable scaffold which is a stent that medicates and heals the artery and then completely dissolves leaving nothing behind. “When it comes to this stent, many patients are puzzled,” says Dr. Kereiakes. “They ask ‘What happens when the stent goes away? Won’t I need it?’ The answer is no. After several months, the artery is healed and returns to normal function. Traditional permanent stents may lead to complications at the stent site including scar tissue growth, new plaque buildup and blood clots that can cause heart attack or require additional procedures.

The Absorb stent will be evaluated for FDA approval early in 2016.

Another novel technology introduced at The Christ Hospital is the WATCHMAN Left Atrial Appendage Closure Device that reduces the risk of strokes in patients with atrial fibrillation.

“The WATCHMAN has been available at The Christ Hospital since the initial U.S. testing,” says Dr. Madhukar Gupta, electrophysiologist and cardiac rhythm expert. “

The WATCHMAN Device is implanted in the left atrial appendage where experts believe the majority of stroke-causing blood clots form. Closing this appendage reduces the risk of stroke.

“This device allows patients the opportunity to choose a single procedure over a lifetime of taking anticoagulation medication,” says Dr. Gupta. “The device is only available locally here at The Christ Hospital and local patients have already benefited from this new technology.”

The MobiusHD Implant is another revolutionary investigational device with ties to The Christ Hospital. This tiny stent-like device is placed into the carotid artery baroreceptor – which regulates the body’s blood pressure – using a small catheter inserted into the leg artery, to treat people suffering from resistant hypertension.

“These patients with resistant hypertension are already on three or four medications,” says Dr. Kereiakes. “You could fill (the) Bengals stadium with Cincinnatians who fit that description. The MobiusHD gives them the opportunity to get off many if not most of these medications.”

The Christ Hospital is also one of the very first centers in the nation to gain access to the Peregrine System Infusion Catheter as a treatment for resistant hypertension.

“An exciting new treatment for resistant hypertension is a procedure called renal artery denervation, which reduces nerve function outside of the renal artery wall,” says Dr. Kereiakes. “The Peregrine catheter uses near-microscopic needles to inject alcohol into the nerves around the renal artery to reduce their function. It takes only minutes for the device to be inserted, dispense alcohol and then be removed. Even though The Christ Hospital provides the latest life-saving technology, patients talk more about the care they received and the professionals who treated them. 

“Dr. Kereiakes is the man,” says Susan Williams, who received an investigational heart valve by a team directed by Dr. Kereiakes.

“I was in very bad shape,” says Williams. “I had acute heart failure and only 33 percent of my lungs were working. I wasn’t well enough to get open heart surgery and Dr. Kereiakes told me about this new minimally-invasive heart valve replacement procedure and I trusted him all the way.”

Before the procedure, Williams couldn’t breathe without the use of an oxygen tank. She was breathing on her own immediately after the procedure was finished.

“After I woke up from the surgery, my husband said he could literally see me improving hour by hour,” Williams says. “And then the next day I was walking up and down steps again and I was out of the hospital and back home. Both of my parents had open heart surgery and had to recover in the hospital for over a month afterwards.”

It’s been a year since Williams received the new valve and her lungs are now working at 86 percent capacity.

An Absorb patient of Northern Kentucky is living better thanks to the Absorb stent and is grateful for the care he received at The Christ Hospital. 

“Dr. Kereiakes may be the best doctor in the country,” says the Absorb patient. “He has one of the best bedside manners I’ve ever seen. He takes time to listen to the patient. “Less than a week after my procedure I was back to my daily two-mile walks and now I’m even lifting weights. And I’m 64!”

The Christ Hospital continues to look at new technology to help patients back to the life that they want to live.

“I derive tremendous professional satisfaction from my involvement with these emerging technologies,” says Dr. Reginelli. “It’s rewarding to know that the work we do today has the potential to improve the lives of countless patients in the future.”

The Christ Hospital is located at 2139 Auburn Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45219 and offers cardiovascular care at locations throughout the Tristate. You can find a physician or location by calling 513.585.1000 or visit www.thechristhospital.com.