When you think of medical research trials or studies, do you picture them taking place at large universities in faraway cities?
Would you be surprised to learn that community hospitals — perhaps the one where you gave birth to your children or your mom had surgery — conduct research trials? At these community hospitals, local patients can benefit from the latest therapies without having to travel long distances.
Ambrose "Sonny" Parks of London is one of those patients. In the spring of 2012, Parks agreed to participate in a research trial involving an implantable cardioverter defibrillator. Parks had had a series of defibrillators since a heart attack in 1997.
"I thought if I had this defibrillator maybe they could learn more about it, and I could be doing something to help someone in the future," said the retired mechanic. "I never dreamed it would end up saving my own life."
The defibrillator has a monitoring feature designed to detect and record life-threatening changes in the heart's rhythm and to alert the patient or doctor. A special transmitter connects to patients' home phone lines and sends information from the defibrillator to the study doctor's office.
Just four months after doctors implanted the new defibrillator, the cardiac research team at Baptist Health Lexington received an alert from Parks' transmitter. A heart catheterization shortly afterward revealed blockages that required quadruple bypass surgery. Because the blockages were caught before they caused a heart attack, Parks' heart was not damaged.
"I hadn't felt bad at all, so I was surprised when they said the transmitter had told them something was wrong," said Parks, now 75.
Community hospitals can offer a diverse population of patients for their trials, and patients can continue to see physicians and staff they are familiar with while taking advantage of new drugs, devices and other therapies being studied on a national level.
If you would like to learn more about cardiac research going on in your own community, please call (859) 260-4489 or email laura.martin@BHSI.com.