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Dameron Hospital: A World-Class Cardiac Surgery Program

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More than 600,000 people die of heart disease in the U.S. each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Further research shows that risk factors such as smoking, high cholesterol, and diabetes are the most significant contributing factors to heart disease. If left untreated, plaque build-up inside the arteries can lead to an array of life-threatening cardiac and thoracic illnesses.

For local residents living with this dangerous condition, expert medical care and treatment are essential, and for the past century, Dameron Hospital has been committed to meeting these and other health care needs of our community. This commitment paved the way for a partnership with Stanford Health Care and the Stanford University School of Medicine to develop the Stanford Cardiac Surgery Program at Dameron Hospital.

Enhancing the Standard of Surgical Care
Established in October 2017, the Stanford Cardiac Surgery Program at Dameron Hospital specializes in minimally invasive cardiac and thoracic surgeries. Its overarching goal is to leverage some of the brightest minds in medicine, state-of-the-art technology and advanced cardiothoracic surgical techniques to complement the high level of care Dameron Hospital already offers, creating a center of excellence for cardiothoracic surgeries and treatments.

The Stanford Cardiac Surgery Program at Dameron also provides patients with access to groundbreaking clinical care and research programs. Composed of surgeons who are faculty members at the Stanford University School of Medicine’s Cardiothoracic Surgery Department, the program helps patients suffering from life-threatening heart and lung diseases through the use of minimally invasive surgical procedures that decrease recovery time and lessen pain.

Dr. Eric Keyser, Medical Director for the Stanford Cardiac Surgery Program at Dameron Hospital, notes that the number of heart disease cases across the U.S continues to grow at an alarming rate. “As we see the prevalence of diabetes and high cholesterol rise, it has a direct correlation with the incidence of heart disease.” As Americans continue to consume unhealthy foods and live harmful lifestyles, their ability to avoid these life-threatening diseases decreases. However, Dr. Keyser noted, “Living a healthy lifestyle that includes eating a moderate-calorie diet while incorporating nutritional foods and complementary vitamins and minerals can help reduce the risk of heart disease.”

A Path to Advanced Care
Trained and experienced in advanced cardiac and thoracic surgery procedures, Dr. Keyser utilizes leading-edge technology to apply surgical techniques that minimize the impact on the patient. As an example, traditional bypass surgeries involve stopping the heart and using a cardiopulmonary bypass machine to maintain the patient’s circulation of blood and oxygen content.

“Advanced surgical techniques like off-pump coronary artery bypass, where coronary artery bypass grafting, or CABG, surgery is done without using the cardiopulmonary bypass machine, allow these procedures to be done while the heart continues to maintain blood circulation,” Dr. Keyser clarified. “I prefer to use off-pump CABG surgery, particularly for women, because it has a high rate of success. Although the reason is unknown, women have a higher mortality rate compared to men; however, with the off-pump CABG technique, the mortality is equalized between men and women and the risk of complications is reduced.” Designing care around the patient also minimizes the use of unnecessary drugs while using the best surgical option to reduce the need for additional interventions.

Successful Outcomes
Since its launch, the Stanford Cardiac Surgery Program at Dameron Hospital has produced many positive clinical outcomes, including challenging cases that would not normally be accepted because of the risks associated with the use of traditional techniques. “Some patients whose conditions precluded them from a particular treatment or surgery now have more options thanks to the introduction of this technique,” shared Dr. Keyser.

An example of the program’s success involved a very high-risk patient suffering from severe heart failure. “This particular patient had heart surgery before, and it left him with extensive scarring in his chest. Although his heart disease was very advanced, our team determined that he would be a good candidate for a new procedure that incorporated the use of a MitraClip, an innovative treatment for severe mitral regurgitation that does not require open-heart surgery. The patient was transferred to the Stanford medical facility; however, as a life-long resident of Stockton, he was concerned about leaving Dameron. I accompanied him and stayed throughout his procedure to help him feel safe and comfortable. The patient recovered with a repaired mitral valve without any of the risks and discomfort associated with traditional surgery,” shared Dr. Keyser.

This unique medical partnership allows patients to receive exceptional care in our local community with the backup of Stanford expertise when necessary. The Dameron Hospital and Stanford partnership brings a team of healthcare professionals that together are dedicated to helping those in our community who need it the most.

For more information about the Stanford Cardiac Surgery Program at Dameron Hospital, visit