Everyone knows its Heart Week, but does anyone know what a Cath Lab is?

Heart Week provides the perfect opportunity for healthcare professionals to educate the community about the risks of developing cardiovascular disease and ways to lower the risk.

7 May 2021

St John of God Berwick Hospital heart week

More importantly, it’s vital that we begin to reiterate the importance of getting regular heart health checks.

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly disrupted health services and as a result data shows that the number of preventative health assessments, delivered over the course of last year, plummeted - particularly for services that could not be provided via telehealth, such as Heart Health Checks.

It’s time to return our attention to the prevention and management of cardiovascular disease – something that St John of God Health Care does well. Our cardiac services include a Cath Lab and an outpatient cardiac rehabilitation program, both of which aim to treat and overcome heart-related conditions while helping patients obtain a better quality of life through education, and improved physical and mental health and wellbeing.

“That sounds great, but what exactly is a Cath Lab and how can it help me?” – we heard you ask.

It’s a term that even when spelled out in full – Catheterisation Lab – still provides little in the way of an explanation, so it’s a great question to ask.

Our ‘Cath Lab’, which was the first of its kind in 2018 to be established in our region, has the ability to provide minimally invasive tests and procedures to diagnose and treat cardiovascular disease.

Simply put, access to the heart and blood vessels can now be obtained through tiny, flexible tubes called catheters (and there it is, we can finally understand where the name of a Cath Lab comes from). These catheters enable interventional cardiologists to provide treatment that can only otherwise be achieved through invasive surgical procedures. Correcting internal blockages in blood vessels, for example, can now be performed using guiding tools through a patient’s arteries - which for many, is a great alternative to cardiovascular surgery.

For patients who are recovering from a cardiac event, we also provide an outpatient rehabilitation program which aims to provide education and support for patients and their families. Delivered by a specialist cardiac nurse and exercise physiologist, with input from other allied health professionals, the cardiac rehabilitation caregivers engage with the rest of a patient’s treatment team to ensure they can work together to meet each person’s needs effectively.

From education on lifestyle and behavioural choices, to tackling anxiety and depression, the St John of God rehabilitation team provides mental and emotional support to those people who have recently undergone a cardiac procedure, suffered from a cardiac event, or who are living with a chronic cardiac condition. The main aim of the program is to help:

  • patients return to the lifestyle they had before their heart event or procedure
  • educate patients on their heart condition and how we can help them make the best choices for their heart health
  • patients manage any long-term heart conditions
  • patients maintain a healthy heart lifestyle to prevent any further heart events

In doing so patients can join in on group or individual education and exercise sessions, link up with other people who have also experienced a cardiac event, and bring in support networks so they can better understand their friend’s or family member’s condition and the impacts it has on their life.

St John of God Berwick Outpatient Cardiac Rehabilitation Program is currently delivered at Stephenson House (8 Gibb Street, Berwick) covering 10 sessions on Tuesday and Friday afternoons.

To join the program, participants need to get a referral from their GP, specialist, or other healthcare facility. For more information email or call 03 9788 3351.