A Mingle With Dr. Bingle: Q&A With A Heart Expert

When you’ve been with the same organization for three decades, you see and learn so much. James Bingle, MD, president of ProMedica Heart and Vascular Institutes, has been with ProMedica Toledo Hospital for 30 years. He has embraced new and unbelievable technologies now incorporated into his patients’ care. He has learned first-hand why CPR is such a valuable technique to know, even if you never have to use it. And every day, Dr. Bingle works to put ProMedica Heart and Vascular Institutes on the map as the area leader in quality heart and vascular care.

Dr. James Bingle of ProMedica Heart and Vascular Institutes with Randy Oostra, President and CEO of ProMedica at the 2015 Toledo Heart Walk.

ProMedica HealthConnect caught up with Dr. Bingle to discuss how he got his start in the medical field, and some of the important lessons he has learned along the way.

Why did you go into the medical field and decide to focus on heart care?
When I was younger I had a family doctor I had always admired. He soon became a family friend and I came to know him quite well. He was a tremendous guy. I have always admired his work and what he did, that is how I initially got started.

I then went on to practice internal medicine for seven years down in southern Georgia. As years passed, I realized cardiology is really what I loved. Going through medical school and training in internal medicine, I had great cardiology teachers that taught me really well and pushed my interest.

Also, my dad died of a heart attack in 1969. Going through that experience really influenced me to go this route.

You’ve been with ProMedica Toledo Hospital as a heart expert for 30 years. In that time, what have been some of the biggest changes and advances in heart care?
One of the biggest improvements is statins, medicines that treat cholesterol. With the introduction of statins the incidence of heart attacks really started to decrease.

Through improvements and advances, we now have the ability to do things we could only do in surgery before. Placing stents in coronary arteries has been a huge advance. Instead of placing valves through surgery, we can now do this through an artery.

Also, the development of electrophysiology, the treatment of rhythm problems, is huge. When I was training there was not even an electrophysiology specialty. Now we have advanced defibrillators, advanced pacemaker technology and ablation —the process of burning areas of the heart to cure rhythm problems. It is all fantastic.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned as a heart expert?
I’ve learned to care for the individual patient, independent of guidelines. It’s important to get to know the patient, and make decisions based on his or her needs. I like to get to know my patients and their families, then I develop that relationship that makes it easier for me to talk with them about what care they want, and I get a very good feel about what the best thing for them is.

As President of ProMedica Heart and Vascular Institutes (PHVI), what are some of your personal goals for heart care in Northwest Ohio?
I want ProMedica to deliver the most efficient, highest quality heart and vascular care in the region. We have a number of programs that are pushing towards that which will impact large amounts of people. I work with cardiologists, heart surgeons and vascular surgeons to make strategic plans that lead to this goal.

What are some of the proud accomplishments PHVI has already achieved?
Our STEMI program is a big one throughout the region. STEMI is a certain type of heart attack. When an individual has one it is imperative he or she receives a certain procedure within 90 minutes of the attack. To achieve this there has to be a process between the nurses, doctors, transport, the access system, the lab, the cardiology group — a whole slew of people. We have developed a pattern of care these individuals follow to ensure the patient can receive the procedure in a timely manner.

Other accomplishments are the development of the heart failure clinic, the institution of our structural heart clinic and cath lab ACE accreditation (which is the only one in the state). Our CT surgeons have maintained the highest quality levels in the United States as they can.

We also have been able to offer the 24/7 cardiology in-house program. We are the only hospital in the region with cardiologists available to patients around the clock, and this has been a tremendous service.

Do you think everyone should be equipped to know hands-only CPR and why or why not?
Definitely, CPR is something you may never use, but if you use it once, you could change someone’s life. CPR is a tool that is very easy to use and implement. People are often afraid of it, but it really can change the outcome of someone’s life. Just remember, you don’t want to be the relative or friend that says, “I should have taken that CPR course.” It will be too late.

I actually learned the importance of CPR from Dr. Don Warkentin, the man who hired me at Toledo Hospital 30 years ago. Dr. Warkentin went jogging one day and found another jogger on the ground. He instituted CPR until help came. We saw the patient doing well in the hospital the next day. It was this experience that made me aware of how important it is to know CPR, and how to deliver it. He taught me that we all need to be ready because you don’t know when it’s coming; no one does.

What’s one piece of heart health advice you’d like to offer to readers?
Eat healthier and exercise daily. Include more fruits and vegetables and less dairy and meat into your diet.

The endothelium, a thin layer of cells that can cause heart attacks, coronary artery disease, and other health problems when ruptured, is strengthened and made healthy by what we put in our mouths and how much we exercise. These are two ways we can change things without medications.


Learn more about the ProMedica Heart and Vascular Institutes.