Options Clinic Offers Hope for Patients
MADISON - A few months ago, Dr. Amish Raval looked around his heart and vascular practice and asked a simple, straightforward question:
Which patients have the worst heart and blood vessel (vascular) related diseases?
The answer - terribly ill patients with conditions such as congestive heart failure, a recent heart attack, peripheral artery disease (PAD), chronic angina - has become the basis for a groundbreaking new clinic at UW Hospital and Clinics that will focus on the sickest of heart and vascular patients.
When Conventional Options are Exhausted
Dubbed the "Options" Clinic, it's a place where patients who have exhausted conventional medical and surgical options to treat their heart and vascular diseases can find hope in cutting-edge adult stem cell and gene therapy trials being run by researchers at UW School of Medicine and Public Health.
"One goal behind the Options Clinic is to identify patients with advanced heart and vascular disease who may qualify for investigational clinical trials," says Dr. Raval, an Assistant Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine with the UW School of Medicine and Public Health. "This is for patients who have been informed by their doctors that there are few or no treatment options available to them."
Many patients with serious heart and vascular conditions can be successfully treated at UW through the use of advanced medications or devices such as stents, heart assist devices, or, in rarer cases, heart transplants. But there are those - Raval estimates it could be as high as five percent of the patients he and his heart and vascular colleagues see in clinic - whose heart disease is simply too far advanced. In his opinion, this number is growing.
Clinical Trials for Advanced Disease
If they meet the study requirements, these patients can participate in clinical trials at the University of Wisconsin while being monitored and cared for by the nurse and research study coordinators who make up the Options Clinic staff.
In one current clinical trial, Dr. Raval is injecting stem cells into the legs of patients with severe PAD, a condition in which arteries in the legs become painfully constricted. If left untreated, PAD can lead to ulcers and amputations. Researchers are hoping that stem cells will cause the growth of new blood vessels, improving blood flow to the legs.
UW is actively involved and recruiting patients for several other trials as well through the Options Clinic, including one that involves the use of a protein growth factor to treat advanced heart disease and another that will use adult stem cells to try to re-grow heart tissue and improve heart pump function in patients who have suffered a major heart attack.
Dr. Raval likes to think of the Options Clinic as a place where patients can have some hope, and stay abreast of the very cutting edge.
"The truth is, the patients we're looking to reach have multiple conditions," Dr. Raval says. "It's common that a person who has peripheral artery disease could also be teetering on the brink of heart failure. This is a new way for us to approach patient focused - advanced cardiovascular disease from both a clinical treatment and scientific perspective. The Options Clinic could be a new and effective way to provide hope for these terribly ill patients."
Patients who feel they may benefit from the Options Clinic can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Date Published: 10/23/2009