The tension was palpable in the operating room. For Dr. Mark Lanzieri, MD SGU ’85, it should have been a routine procedure – he had performed it more than a thousand times over his 22-year medical career. But this was different. It was the first time Dr. Lanzieri, or anyone, had performed an angiogram in Grenada.
That day, Dr. Lanzieri performed not one, but two, angiograms as part of the St. George’s University Visiting Cardiology Program,” calling them “the most invasive procedures we have ever done here.” In the past, Grenadians have had to fly to one other Caribbean islands or as far away as New York or Miami to have these procedures.
He and his team, which included his wife Annie Lanzieri, an X-ray technologist and cardiovascular specialist, and Leigh Silver from Medtronic Company, had to modify the imaging equipment available at the General Hospital to make the angiograms possible. The team brought supplies and equipment to perform the angiograms including monitoring equipment supplied on loan by Zoll Medical Corporation. In the end, both angiograms were completely successful and uncomplicated.
Dr. Lanzieri, who has been doing cardiology screening, consultation, and surgeries in Grenada for the past 14 years as part of the Visiting Cardiology Program, explained that angiography involved using a special dye to obtain images of the blood vessels of the heart with an X-ray. This diagnostic procedure, detects the level of blockage of a patient’s coronary artery, which is important, since patients with severe artery blockage are at risk for heart attacks.
For Dr. Lanzieri, this is a surprising part of his own professional development. “This is very professionally rewarding for us,” he said. “It is fun and refreshing to do the things you do routinely in an environment that requires you to rethink everything from the beginning.”
The Visiting Cardiology Program, which provides heart care for adult Grenadians free of cost to them, keeps growing. “We’re seeing more patients in a month in this clinic than we probably saw in an entire year in the first few clinics that we ran,” said Dr. Lanzieri, recalling the program’s comparatively humble beginnings about 14 years ago in a single room at the General Hospital. Now the program has a dedicated center at Grand Anse, more and more St. George’s University alumni and friends of SGU are signing on and dedicating their time and expertise for the monthly clinics, and new services, like angiography, are being introduced. To date, the 24 cardiologists who participate in the program have seen more than 3,300 patients and the value of their time and the equipment they donated has exceeded $500,000 US.