Island Heart Center
expands expertise

Dr. Hingson Chun will work on
abnormal heart rhythms and
electrical disturbances

By Helen Altonn

The Heart Center of the Pacific is expanding its services with a specialist in correcting abnormal heart rhythms and electrical disturbances that are often life-threatening.

Dr. Hingson Chun, 42, an electrophysiologist, will join the center April 1, working at Straub Clinic & Hospital and Kapiolani Medical Center at Pali Momi.

Son of the late Dr. Hing Hua Chun, of Honolulu, he has practiced since 1995 at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation at Palo Alto Clinic in northern California.

He will discuss irregular heartbeats at a free public meeting with the theme "Valentine in Paradise: What's New in the Management of Cardiovascular Disease," 8 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. Saturday at the Renaissance Ilikai Waikiki Hotel.

Chun is one of six children of Hing Hua Chun and his wife, Connie. The family was known as the "Hunky Bunch" when they ran Honolulu and Boston marathons in the '70s.

The Heart Center of the Pacific, at 888 S. King St., is an affiliate of Hawaii Pacific Health, which includes Straub Clinic & Hospital, the Kapiolani Medical Centers and Wilcox Hospital on Kauai.

"A comprehensive electrophysiology program is one of the key building blocks in developing a world-class heart center," said Karen Lemieux, the heart center's executive director.

Electrophysiologists, she said, "are like electricians of the heart. They use technological advances to map and detect electrical circuitry."

The center now has a small electrophysiology program with an electrophysiologist who has privileges there and at other hospitals, she said.

With Chun there full time, many more patients can be screened and offered treatment options, she said.

He will be able to detect the origin of life-threatening heart rhythms that can cause sudden death, she said.

Such electrical disturbances can be cured with drugs, destruction (ablation) of cardiac tissue or electrical causes of arrhythmia, a pacemaker or implantable defibrillator, she said.

A defibrillator senses and will override irregular heartbeats, but "ablation cures the patient," Lemieux said.

Electrophysiology is a newer subspecialty of cardiology that is "growing tremendously because as patients get older, they tend to have more rhythm disturbances," she explained.

Heart and vascular diseases are the leading cause of death in Hawaii, with one death every three hours, according to the heart center.

Chun said cardiac arrests or deaths can be prevented with use of implantable defibrillators. But as the population ages and medical management improves, he said: "We still end up having a large number of patients with more advanced heart disease.

"It's sort of a paradox of good medicine. It leads to patients who live longer but, frequently, eventually have more serious heart problems."

Chun said he said he will "work seamlessly" with other cardiologists at the center. Dr. Mark Grattan is medical director of cardiac surgery, and Dr. J. Roy Chen is medical director of cardiology.

"It's most important that we really focus on the heart patient as a whole," Chun said, "and while it's important to have some specialized expertise, we still need to manage the total patient, to focus on diet and medication and exercise."

The former marathon runner said one of his New Year's resolutions is "to start doing all the things I tell my patients."

Chun earned his doctorate of medicine from the University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine, completed his residency at the University of Michigan and completed his fellowship in cardiovascular medicine and electrophysiology at Stanford University.

E-mail to City Desk


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