Behind the Scenes Excellence

“So many attributes define excellence. At National Jewish Health, it is inherent in how we think, how we apply knowledge to problems and how we treat and care for the people we serve.”

— Kern Buckner, MD

Dr. Buckner, Cardiac Cath LabShortness of breath (dyspnea) is not always caused by a problem in the lungs; it can often be traced to a poorly functioning heart. That is why the number one respiratory hospital in the nation includes a topnotch cardiology department. Pulmonary hypertension, seen frequently at National Jewish Health, sits squarely at the intersection of the lungs and heart. When the heart has difficulty pushing blood through the lungs, as it often does with damaged lungs, it works harder. This condition leads to high pressure in the pulmonary arteries and to potentially fatal heart damage.

Pulmonary hypertension is poorly understood, difficult to diagnose and often resistant to treatment. National Jewish Health is working to change that with its new Pulmonary Hypertension Program, which aims to improve diagnosis, prevention and management of the disease.

In 2012, National Jewish Health opened a state-of-the-art cardiac catheterization lab. Cardiac catheterization, a method of threading a probe through the arteries to the heart, is the most effective way to diagnose pulmonary hypertension.

The new lab also gives National Jewish Health doctors the ability to collect extensive data from patients who have the procedure. “We can look for trends that can help us design clinical trials to improve care for pulmonary hypertension patients,” said Kern Buckner, MD, chief of cardiology at National Jewish Health.