World Renowned Cardiac Specialist Joins Region's Premier Heart Care, Research Team
From Left: Dean Kereiakes, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.S.C.A.I. and Tim Henry, M.D., F.A.C.C., M.S.C.A.I.
World-renowned cardiac specialist Tim Henry, M.D., F.A.C.C., M.S.C.A.I., former chief of cardiology at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, was recently named the Lindner Family Distinguished Chair in Clinical Research and Medical Director of The Carl and Edyth Lindner Center for Research and Education at The Christ Hospital. An internationally-recognized innovator in heartattack care and the study of stem cell and regenerative therapies for heart failure and refractory angina, Dr. Henry is excited to be working with Dean Kereiakes, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.S.C.A.I., interventional cardiologist and Medical Director of The Christ Hospital Research Institute.
“He brings a wealth of invaluable, diverse experience to this center,” says Dr. Kereiakes, whose tenure at The Christ Hospital spans three-plus decades. He describes Dr. Henry as a “real pioneer” in stem cell and regenerative therapy research, and “an incredibly well-established clinical researcher and thought leader who will elevate the regionalized heart care provided at The Christ Hospital.”
“To be the director of the Carl and Edyth Lindner Center for Research is an amazing opportunity, but more importantly, we have the unique opportunity to grow and expand it,” says Dr. Henry, who has been a national or international principal investigator for more than a dozen clinical trials. “I think the environment at The Christ Hospital and the Lindner Center allows us to do pragmatic growth involving clinical research.”
All new cutting-edge technology and treatments – whether it’s a less-invasive heart valve therapy or a new treatment for heart failure – must go through clinical research, he notes. “And the research staff here is unbelievably experienced. Many of them have been here for multiple decades. So, this is an unbelievably strong, experienced clinical research staff, with the generous support of the Lindner family. People in Cincinnati are fortunate, because when they come to The Christ Hospital, they have access to techniques many people across the United States don’t have.
“I’ve been good friends with Dean for many years, and we are a great partnership – really complementary in terms of working together,” he adds. “I think it’s safe to say there is no one who has more of a commitment to heart care in Greater Cincinnati than Dean Kereiakes. He is amazing and well-respected, not just locally, but across the U.S. For me, this is a unique opportunity to work with Dean and carry on the legacy.”
Their mutual respect, according to Kereiakes, springs from their similar backgrounds.
“We catalyze each other. We both made it in the mainstream academic environment through sheer hard work and ingenuity – neither one of us grew up, as we say, in ivory towers. And we have approximately 2,000 peer review medical publications between the two of us, and between us we will be running approximately 12 to 15 active national or international clinical trials. This is shocking – and probably unparalleled – in any other cardiovascular clinical research institution in the country at this time.” Currently, they are conducting multiple stem cell/growth factor clinical trials in patients with heart failure or angina.
More About Dr. Henry
Dr. Henry is one of the founders of the American Heart Association’s Mission Lifeline’s national initiative, designed to advance the system of care for patients with acute, high-risk, time-sensitive, or quality-of-life threatening disease states, such as heart attacks. Mission Lifeline’s goal is to bring care providers together to collaborate to reduce patients’ mortality and morbidity while improving patients’ quality of care.
He received his medical degree from the University of California, San Francisco in 1982; completed his residency at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, in 1985; his cardiology and interventional cardiology fellowships at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, in 1990 and 1991, respectively; and then spent 11 years at Hennepin County Medical Center and University of Minnesota.
After being named the director of research at the Minneapolis Heart Institute in 2002, Dr. Henry developed a network that dramatically changed the process by which patients with ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) are treated. STEMI is a type of heart attack caused by a prolonged period of blocked blood supply that affects a large area of the heart. Because STEMI carries a substantial risk of death and disability, it calls for an extra expedient response, Dr. Henry explains. The goal is to open that blocked artery within 90 minutes or less from the time of chest pain onset or first medical contact to the start of life-saving coronary procedures.
“When you have a heart attack, a blood clot forms at a narrowing in the artery. The best way to fix that is to go directly to a cardiac catheter lab and have a stent put in to fix that blockage,” he explains. “To do that you have to have a network of emergency care personnel to get people to the hospital immediately.”
Through his innovative network, heart attack patients in a 100-200-mile radius of the Minneapolis Heart Institute were flown in by helicopter, administered the required adjunctive therapies in-flight, and then underwent the emergency balloon and stent procedures as soon as they arrived at the facility. “It’s been a wonderful thing to see, dramatically improving the mortality rate of patients with heart attacks,” Dr. Henry adds.
“And guess what? We’re going to do the same thing here,” says Dr. Kereiakes. “We’re starting to build that network.”
The Christ Hospital is moving to regionalized heart attack care as well as advanced care for shock, out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, massive pulmonary embolism and thoracic-abdominal aortic aneurysms, and will provide greater expertise and better technology than any other place in the region, he emphasizes.
The Christ Hospital Health Network is already a leader in minimally invasive mitral valve surgery, chronic coronary occlusion and complex high-risk angioplasty coronary revascularization – procedures that only a handful of people in the country are trained to do, Dr. Kereiakes notes.
A History of Firsts
Over the past few decades, many significant firsts in cardiovascular care have taken place at The Christ Hospital, including the region’s first balloon angioplasty, first open-heart bypass and first stent procedure. Staying at the forefront of world-class cardiovascular care ensures patients continue to receive the best in diagnosis, treatment and prevention of heart disease – no small feats in the world of heart care. This success has been made possible through generous community philanthropic support, passionate physicians, intense clinical research and significant investments by the hospital to reach this top level of excellence.
Clinical research drives excellence and innovation in patient care, Dr. Kereiakes points out. Because the Carl and Edyth Lindner Center for Research and Education does more clinical cardiovascular research than any other institution in the state of Ohio, The Christ Hospital Health Network has become the portal for access to potentially life-saving technologies years in advance of when they become commercially available for the rest of the region. That means better care for all patients because research protocols are guideline-compliant and quality-assured to conform to best practice standards.
“We stay on the leading edge because we are able to recruit and retain superior talent, in part due to philanthropic endowments,” says Dr. Kereiakes. “We recruit nationally-credible physician thought leaders, like Tim, with proven track records.”
A $5 million donation from the Farmer Family Foundation a few years ago, for example, enabled The Christ Hospital to recruit a national-caliber, board-certified cardiac critical care physician to serve as the medical director of the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CVICU); establish a nursing excellence program to recruit, support and retain the best nurses for the CVICU; and make substantial unit renovations.
“We will be recruiting other top physicians in cardiovascular sub-specialties, and this will happen more rapidly than you might think – within the next three to five years,” Kereiakes says. “Tim and I are not going to waste time.”
Both Dr. Henry and Dr. Kereiakes agree that it’s an exciting time overall for heart care in Cincinnati. The Christ Hospital currently offers an amazing array of cutting-edge, life-saving cardiac procedures – from coronary bypass, aortic and mitral valve surgeries, and mechanical cardiac assist devices designed specifically for heart failure patients. The hospital also provides a broad selection of treatments for aortic disease, including aneurysms involving the aortic root, ascending aorta, aortic arch and descending thoracic and abdominal aneurisms, as well as aortic dissections.
Minimally-invasive heart surgeries, performed at few medical centers across the country, are performed regularly at The Christ Hospital. These techniques allow many patients who are not candidates for traditional open-heart surgery to benefit from less-invasive, less traumatic procedures. Such procedures also result in shorter hospital stays and recovery times.
The Christ Hospital is also the only hospital in the region to offer multiple catheter-based treatments for repairing or replacing the mitral valve, which allows blood flow to go from the left atrium to the left ventricle – the main beating chamber of the heart – which pumps oxygenated blood to tissues throughout the body.
On the Heart Care Horizon
A coronary sinus reducer is a unique technology soon to be undergoing clinical trial at The Christ Hospital. Designed for people suffering from chest pains despite optimum medical management, this device changes the way the blood flows throughout the heart. It complements new technology designed to open chronic total coronary artery occlusions, Dr. Henry explains. These new ways of opening previously closed arteries, in addition to gene and stem cell therapies, are three dynamic treatment options on The Christ Hospital’s heart care horizon.
The coronary sinus reducer has already been approved for use in Europe, Dr. Henry notes. He is working with the FDA to get it approved in the U.S., and foresees it being available for clinical study and compassionate care use at The Christ Hospital soon.
“We have technologies and treatments here three years ahead of anyone else, and there’s a reason for that.” says Dr. Kereiakes. “Three years is, roughly, the FDA cycle for approval.”
If you’re familiar with Mark Twain, he adds, you may recall the quote often attributed to the author and humorist: “If the world comes to an end, I want to be in Cincinnati because they are always 20 years behind the times.”
“Well, I can assure you, we are positioned to have leading-edge medical therapies three years ahead of everybody else, not 20 years behind,” Kereiakes concludes. “Clinical research drives innovation and quality, and that’s what we’ve done here, and that’s how we recruited Tim Henry, and that’s why The Christ Hospital’s future is bright. It’s only going to get bigger and better. There is much more to come. Stay tuned.”
The Christ Hospital is located at 2139 Auburn Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45219. For more information, visit www.thechristhospital.com