The Importance Of Heart Health And Trusting Your Doctor | Dr. Ramzan Zakir

Patient trust is one of the most important things to have as a doctor, which is why the Heart and Vascular Institute of Central Jersey believes in developing a strong relationship with patients based on compassion, mutual respect and understanding.

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Keeping an eye on your cardiovascular health is an essential part of growing older. Cardiovascular disease is the most deadly illness in the world, and while genetics and personal lifestyle have a major impact on your risk, there are other things one can do to make sure they’re healthy. For instance, a strong and trusting relationship with your doctor can help ensure that you’re on the best course for living a long and normal life. 

Dr. Ramzan Zakir runs the Heart & Vascular Institute of Central Jersey, where they prioritize making every patient feel as if they’re family while undergoing treatment. When it comes to heart health in general, Zakir wants the average individual to understand that “genetics and personal lifestyle choices play a huge role in how well your cardiovascular system functions. The number one thing we tell patients when it comes to their personal lives is that smoking is one of the worst things you can do for your heart, and a healthy diet that includes some sort of daily exercise is one of the best ways you can look out for your heart health every day.”

Having a trusting relationship with one’s cardiovascular physician is also extremely important, especially for those who suffer from any illnesses that specifically target that system of the body. This is why Zakir prioritizes establishing a personal relationship with each of his patients, as it reassures them that they’re not alone, and have someone in their corner who wants them to be the healthiest they can possibly be. 

“I always try to develop a friendly rapport with my patients so that they view me as a friend as well as someone who genuinely wants to help them. Obviously I’m there to focus on their health, but it’s really important to go out of your way to make them feel comfortable and build trust because we both have the same goal, getting them to return to a greater quality of life,” Zakir explained. 

“Our patients at the Heart & Vascular Institute really aren’t just patients to us. We’re here 24/7 for them because we want to commit ourselves fully to improve upon their conditions and lives overall.”

According to the Heart & Vascular Institute’s website, Dr. Zakir is also a Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at Rutgers Medical School, Robert Wood Johnson Barnabas University Hospital where he is also involved in research and fellow training. Beyond that, he is also a Medical Director of the Robert Wood Johnson catheterization laboratory, commonly referred to as a cath lab, which is “an examination room in a hospital or clinic with diagnostic imaging equipment used to visualize the arteries of the heart and the chambers of the heart and treat any stenosis or abnormality found.”

Zakir set up the entire transradial program at the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital back before cardiologists were doing any procedures through the wrist. “We now know that for certain cardiovascular procedures, if you go in through the radial artery in the wrist you have an earlier recovery time, less complications, and better patient satisfaction overall. So I started the radial program at Robert Wood Johnson and became the Director of the Transradial program around that same time.”

“While working at the university hospital I also became the director of the vascular program at St. Peter’s Hospital, and both roles worked to give me some national recognition for these procedures and how much they were helping people. After a few years of doing a lot of work in the cath lab and building a name for myself I just really wanted to start my own practice so I could start helping a greater number of people, which is how the Heart and Vascular Institute of Central Jersey came about.”

The main focus at the Heart and Vascular Institute, according to Zakir, “is complex coronary and vascular interventions, so we treat patients that are generally considered to be high risk, whether it be from their genetics, age, other illnesses, their arteries being 100% blocked, or severely calcified. A majority of our patients are high risk and have those risky anatomic factors, but we also are able to help the average patient as well, or as we like to call it the ‘bread and butter of cardiology.’” 

“Bread and Butter cardiology” refers to patients who are seen in the hospital with heart attacks and need stent placements, or come in to the office with complaints of chest pains, shortness of breath and palpitations that require testing in the office for further evaluation. “That’s just the coronary side of the practice,” Zakir explained. “We’ve also worked very hard to build the vascular portion of the practice as well, which works to treat patients with non-healing wounds who are at risk for amputation. That part of our practice works with patients to establish blood flow and hopefully allow the wound to heal and steer the patient away from the path of amputation; again that part of our practice tends to deal with much higher risk patients.

“A majority of our patients are considered high risk, and many of them have been told by other doctors that nothing can be done for them. So to be able to provide new and advanced treatments that give them a normal quality of life is one of the best parts of the job.”

Zakir explained that more times than not cardiovascular patients “will go to physicians who are experts on one or two techniques when it comes to clearing arteries or improving cardiovascular health, so when that one technique doesn’t work, you get a lot of patients who are told nothing else can be done for them when that’s not really the case.”

“The Heart & Vascular Institute strives to adopt technology that is the least invasive with the lowest risk but the most successful at improving patient quality of life. I’m luckily able to lecture at medical conferences all around the world every year, so I see the newest advancements and technologies as they get approved and put out into the world.”

One of the reasons the Heart & Vascular Institute of Central Jersey is so highly regarded in the medical community is because of the advanced technology and procedures that they’ve adopted. Their website explains in detail how the “office is equipped with cutting edge technology to provide exceptional diagnostic services, which help initiate a focused, personalized treatment plan to improve patients’ health conditions.” Zakir explained how the Institute has a “multitude of state of the art diagnostic equipment that helps us get the most accurate reading of what our patients are going through internally, that way we can really lay out the best course of action for them.” So how exactly do they determine what medical advancements would be most beneficial to their specific pool of patients? 

“When it comes to bringing in something to our practice it really comes down to approaching advancements that go about procedures we already provide in a different, and potentially easier, way. It’s all about constantly learning from peers and adopting techniques that are going to help the most people.” Providing this state of the art technology is something Zakir considers to be a personal responsibility at this point in his career:

“I feel very strongly that if I’m not able to provide cutting edge technology that’s constantly evolving with the medical industry, I’m not doing my patients justice. I put a lot of responsibility on myself in understanding that there’s a high level of trust involved when someone signs a consent form to do a procedure. I need to be at the highest level possible and be able to deliver the best care possible to my patients, which is why I’m always striving to bring in new equipment to the Institute so that we make sure we’re providing the highest quality and most advanced level of care that we can.” 

Zakir also explained how the Institute places a lot of focus on teaching these new techniques and advancements to others within the industry. “We want the rest of the world to adopt these policies and procedures so that less individuals are left thinking nothing can be done for them when there’s a slew of options that likely exist already at another medical center. Before the pandemic we were teaching a lot of medical professionals at our Institute about this technology and new procedures that we do everyday. It’s great that our Institute is adopting this technology, but also sharing it so more and more people throughout the world can have access to these options.”

The Heart & Vascular Institute of Central Jersey has become one of the most highly regarded medical establishments because of its advanced technology, but more importantly because of the trust that doctors like Zakir provide to patients who are looking to get back to their lives. To learn more about the amazing work the Institute provides, and about the importance of cardiovascular health in general, click here!