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St. David's HealthCare and Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Announce International Center For Training, Research and Treatment of Heart Rhythm Disorders
Date:5/1/2008

Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Recruits and Hires Dr. Andrea Natale, Leading Expert on Atrial Fibrillation

Natale Named Executive Medical Director of the Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute at St. David's Medical Center

AUSTIN, Texas, May 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- St. David's HealthCare, along with Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia, announced today the development of the Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute (TCAI) at St. David's Medical Center. TCAI -- an international treatment, training and research center specializing in heart rhythm disorders -- is the first of its kind in the U.S.

Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia, an Austin-based cardiac electrophysiology group that is a division of Texas Cardiovascular Consultants and the largest private practice electrophysiology group in the U.S., recruited and hired world-renowned cardiac electrophysiologist Andrea Natale, MD, FACC, FHRS, as a partner in the practice. Natale will serve as TCAI's executive medical director. He brings more than 20 years of experience in cardiovascular disease to the institute.

Dr. Natale performs/pioneered a specialized procedure in which catheters are placed in the heart and radio frequency energy is delivered to electrically disconnect the area that initiates the abnormal heart rhythm; atrial fibrillation. This highly complicated technique requires precise catheter control.

Heart rhythm disorders (arrhythmias) are problems that affect the electrical system, or "wiring," of the heart muscle. Heart arrhythmias are very common and millions of people will experience an abnormal heart rhythm some time during their lives.

Natale treats patients from around the world for abnormal heart rhythms (or Atrial Fibrillation). He was a member of the Cardiovascular Medicine Department at the Cleveland Clinic from 1999 to October 2007, serving most recently as section head for the Department of Cardiac Pacing and Electrophysiology and as medical director for the Cleveland Clinic's Center for Atrial Fibrillation. In 2006, Natale was named to the Food and Drug Administration's Task Force on Atrial Fibrillation and recently received a patent for a device used to modify part of the heart that causes Atrial Fibrillation.

Atrial Fibrillation (A Fib), known as the "silent killer" because it often goes unnoticed, is a disorder found in roughly 2.2 million Americans. During A Fib, the heart's two small upper chambers (the atria) quiver instead of beating effectively. Blood isn't pumped completely out of them, so it may pool and clot. If a piece of a blood clot in the atria leaves the heart and becomes lodged in an artery in the brain, a stroke results.

"Recruiting renowned researchers and physicians to Texas, like Dr. Natale, spurs further growth of the state's health care industry and contributes to our overall competitiveness in the global marketplace," Texas Governor Rick Perry said. "The addition of Dr. Natale and the establishment of the Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute positions Central Texas as a leader in heart health care in Texas and across the country."

"The future of treatment for Atrial Fibrillation, an increasingly common heart rhythm disorder, is at the Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute," Jon Foster, chief executive officer, St. David's HealthCare, said. "We already treat more patients than anyone else in the region for this disorder and serve as an international training magnet for the medical community, teaching other physicians the latest techniques; with the addition of Dr. Natale, we will be able to significantly broaden the patient base that we serve."

St. David's HealthCare

St. David's HealthCare's total capital investment related to the Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute is approximately $36 million. The initial capital investment is $8 million for new technology and institute infrastructure, $6 million for a hospital renovation project on the second floor where institute patients receive care and another $22 million for a critical care patient tower that is currently in the planning stages. With the $36 million capital investment in TCAI, St. David's HealthCare will have invested more than $680 million in Central Texas in the last 10 years.

St. David's HealthCare is the fourth-largest private employer in the Austin area, with more than 6,200 employees and $2.3 billion in annual gross revenues. St. David's HealthCare has recently been voted one of Austin's "Best Places to Work" by the Austin Business Journal. In 2006, St. David's HealthCare provided more than $175 million in free care to people who could not otherwise afford to pay. For more information about St. David's HealthCare or its hospitals: St. David's North Austin Medical Center, St. David's Round Rock Medical Center, St. David's South Austin Hospital, St. David's Medical Center, St. David's Georgetown Hospital, and St. David's Rehabilitation Hospital-please visit http://www.stdavids.com.

Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia/Texas Cardiovascular Consultants

Founded in 1996 by Rodney P. Horton, M.D., Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia, now a division of Texas Cardiovascular Consultants, has performed thousands of electrophysiology procedures and cared for thousands of patients, providing state of the art care in Texas as well as in Central and South America. The team participates in clinical research offering patients the latest technology while ensuring that physicians remain on the cutting edge. For more information about clinics throughout Austin and surrounding countries, as well as in Waco, Bryan, College Station, San Angelo, Temple, Killeen, Corpus Christi, Laredo and Odessa--please visit http://www.TCAheart.com.

Founded in 1986, Texas Cardiovascular Consultants is the central leader in the delivery of personalized, comprehensive, state of the art cardiovascular care in Texas.

Media Contacts:

Christin Cross 512-416-6396

Yvette Watson 202-944-1969


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SOURCE St. David's HealthCare
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