The heart and lung team at The Essex Cardiothoracic Centre (CTC) had the opportunity to learn from an internationally acclaimed cardiopulmonary expert. On his first visit to Britain to share his knowledge and experience with fellow clinicians, Professor Janos Porszasz praised the work done by staff at the centre.
The eminent physiologist is Adjunct Professor of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Technical Director of the Rehabilitation Clinical Trials Centre at Harbour UCLA. He is a leading authority on exercise tests in cardiopulmonary evaluation and was the keynote speaker at a training day held at Basildon University Hospital for consultants and respiratory trainees from across the country.
He also spent a day in the pulmonary physiology lab with the cardiopulmonary team at The CTC, to educate staff and advise them on how to improve patient care.
The cardiopulmonary team uses sophisticated equipment to help diagnose patients with a variety of lung and heart conditions, in particular breathlessness, where no specific cause is found with standard tests. The team monitor the patient while they use a treadmill or exercise bike to see how their body and organs react when they are active. This test helps to identify problems and determine further testing and treatment that might be beneficial.
The test is highly technical and this expertise is only available in a few centres in Britain. The machines are adjusted to account for each individual patient's age, weight, medical condition, and level of fitness. The results give the consultant an accurate picture of the patient's condition.
Not only do the exercise tests help diagnosis, they can help the clinical team assess how patients will cope during and after surgery, give patients an accurate assessment of the risk of surgery and help patient recovery.
Dr Johnson Samuel, Consultant Respiratory Physician and lead for Pulmonary Physiology and Sleep Medicine in the Trust, started this service in 2008. He said: "We perform just over 200 cardiopulmonary exercise tests a year for patients having major cardiothoracic procedures, lifesaving aneurysm repairs, cancer surgery and heart or lung transplants. The test identifies patients who may appear fit but in reality are not. More importantly, the tests may find that those deemed unfit by standard tests are actually be fit for the procedure and can go on to receive lifesaving treatments.
"Exercise tests are important because they help consultants focus on how the patient's body works as a whole before intervention. These tests are so technical, and there are very few people worldwide that we could learn from. Professor Porszasz's centre in Harbour UCLA is the world leader in cardiopulmonary exercise physiology and has produced some of the most important work in this field. It is a great benefit to the team here at the CTC to have him with us."
Professor Porszasz often speaks at international conferences, and stopped over in England for two days to visit Basildon, following a presentation at the European Respiratory Society meeting in Vienna. His first visit to Britain to pass on his experience was a favour to Dr Samuel, after they worked together for three weeks last year at UCLA.
With a cumulative total of over 2,500 citations of his research work and over 70 publications, Professor Porszasz is involved with a number of cutting edge research trials funded by the USA's National Institute of Health (NIH), industry sponsored research and home grown research funded by UCLA.
He said: "It's fascinating to be here in Basildon at The Essex Cardiothoracic Centre because it is a human environment. Everybody I have met is knowledgeable and keen to learn. Their work is of a very high quality. I don't publish prolifically but when we publish something we do it carefully. It has to be important."
Professor Porszasz presented five talks at the "Exercise Tests in Cardiopulmonary Evaluation" symposium on Friday 14 September at Basildon Hospital. Other speakers were Dr Jose Thomas, Consultant Respiratory Physician at Neville Hall Hospital in Wales, Dr P James from Basildon University Hospital and the Christian Medical College in Vellore, India and Dr Samuel.