Two Local Heart Specialists Provide Free Cardiac Care to Patients in Need in Nepal

May 28, 2014

Two local heart specialists from St. Helena Hospital’s Adventist Heart Institute recently traveled to Nepal to provide cardiac care and to help educate local residents as part of a free cardiac camp sponsored by the Jayanti Memorial Trust. This year’s event was held at Western Regional Hospital in Pokhara, Nepal, and included patient education, screening and testing, treatment and medications. Five cardiac surgeons and cardiologists from Nepal and the United States participated in providing care to Nepal residents in need.

Dr. Andreas Sakopoulos, cardiothoracic and endovascular surgeon, and Dr. Monica Divakaruni, interventional cardiologist and women’s heart health specialist, traveled from St. Helena to join the team of cardiac surgeons and cardiologists to conduct the one-day camp. Heart disease is often undetected, in part due to lack of awareness among the public, so the Trust has established an annual outreach program that includes patient education, screening and testing, treatment, and medications, free of charge, from world-class cardiac specialists. This year 418 local participants were able to access tests such as ECG and echocardiograms, free consultations with cardiac experts, and medication during the 11-hour event.

Drs. Sakopoulos and Divakaruni also performed surgeries and interventions at the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital in Kathmandu, the premier teaching hospital in the country. “I helped to perform several valve operations, including aortic valve and mitral valve replacements,” Dr. Sakopoulos said. “Dr. Divakaruni and I also assisted with mitral valve balloon valvuloplasties for patients with rheumatic heart disease. We worked with some of the best physicians in Nepal. It was so rewarding to work together to bring that level of cardiac care to people who might otherwise not have access to it.”

“Just as here in the United States, helping people understand how to manage their risk of heart disease – a healthy diet, regular exercise, stress management – is a key component in reducing the impact of heart disease,” adds Dr. Divakaruni. “In Nepal, the information isn’t as widely known among the general public, so clinics such as this play an important role in improving health and longevity.”

Dr. Sakopoulos is an accomplished cardiothoracic surgeon specializing in coronary artery bypass surgery, valve repairs and replacements, pacemakers, aneurysms and surgery for the treatment of lung cancer and other chest tumors. He has spearheaded the St. Helena Hospital Endovascular program, and is a recognized leader in advancing cutting-edge cardiovascular surgical interventions. With a history of bringing care to underserved groups, Dr. Divakaruni is a passionate advocate for women’s heart health, across the full spectrum of cardiac care. She places special focus on innovative treatment options, and keeps at the forefront of new diagnostic testing and the most advanced cardiac catheterization techniques available. She is the founder and Medical Director of St. Helena Women’s Heart Center.

About St. Helena Hospital: St. Helena Hospital is part of Adventist Health, a faith-based, not-forprofit integrated health care delivery system serving communities in California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington. Our workforce of 28,900 includes more than 21,200 employees; 4,500 medical staff physicians; and 3,200 volunteers. Founded on Seventh-day Adventist health values, Adventist Health provides compassionate care in 19 hospitals, more than 170 clinics (hospitalbased, rural health and physician clinics), 14 home care agencies, six hospice agencies and four joint-venture retirement centers.

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