University of Virginia Cardiac specialists led by US based Dr.Sula Mazimba and Dr Scot Lim have over the last week been conducting rheumatic valvular heart disease screening as well as performing percutaneous valvular interventions at the University of Zambia Teaching Hospital (UTH). The program has been a collaboration between the ministry of health of Zambia, University of Virginia and UTH. Dr Mazimba a graduate from the UNZA School of medicine and now an associate professor at the University of Virginia led the advanced heart valve team to Zambia for these specialized interventions for patients with valvular heart diseases.
Some cardiac patients in Zambia with very advanced valvular heart diseases have historically been sent abroad for surgical interventions. Rheumatic heart disease leads to reduced quality of life and premature death due to heart failure. Besides treating patients with these procedures, the program was also aimed at facilitating skill transfer on valvular interventions to the local cardiac team led by Dr Lorrita Kabwe.
Dr.Mazimba said his team had been seeing patients with severe rheumatic mitral stenosis and had performed 5 percutaneous ballon interventions. They were hoping to come back to help more patients who were not identified on this trip. Rheumatic heart disease is a late complication of rheumatic fever, which results in severe scaring and narrowing of the heart valves. With a now fully functional cardiac catheterization laboratory at UTH, patients with severe valvular heart disease previously sent out of the country for treatment, can be considered for treatment locally.