Dr. Karan Shetty’s Letter

As the Island Health medical lead for Echocardiography, I would like to express my profound gratitude to the donors who have helped fund several of our echocardiography machines.

An echocardiogram is a cardiac ultrasound. It is an indispensable tool that provides cardiologists with lots of valuable information about the cardiac muscle and valves. The echocardiography machine emits high frequency sound waves that bounce off the heart and the blood that flows through it. The returning sound waves are processed by the same machine to generate images of the heart that help cardiologists understand its structure and function.

Amongst its many uses, an echocardiogram can help confirm the diagnosis of a heart attack, detect a leaky heart valve or identify a weakly pumping heart muscle. Without this valuable tool, it might take doctors much longer to arrive at a diagnosis and provide the appropriate treatment to their patients.

I have been working at the Royal Jubilee Hospital for the last seven and a half years. In that time, I have been witness to the great generosity of the Island Health community, who have helped fund several of the machines across the Island. Echo machines are not only used in the Cardiology Department but also in all of our Emergency Rooms and ICUs. They are portable machines that can be brought to the bedside of a sick patient to help determine if there is an active cardiac problem contributing to their illness. Emergency Rooms and ICUs have been facing an added burden of work with the Covid-19 pandemic. In some cases, Covid-19 patients can have cardiac complications related to their viral illness. Echocardiography is the tool that identifies such complications, leading to prompt treatment.

The Covid-19 pandemic affected virtually every department in the hospital. At the beginning of the pandemic, many elective echocardiograms were appropriately deferred or cancelled by referring physicians to keep their patients out of the hospital. This slow-down increased wait times for echocardiograms across the Island. However, due to the hard work of our excellent sonographers (echo technicians) and cardiologists, we have been able to significantly improve wait times over the last few months.

Our future goals include further improvement in wait times and expansion of echocardiography services to regions where it is currently unavailable.

The continued generosity of VHF donors will go a long way to help making this goal achievable.

Karan Shetty MD FRCPC Cardiology, Island Health Echocardiography Medical Lead