You probably already know that the American Heart Association (AHA) lists heart disease as the leading killer of Americans today. The AHA also says that knowing more about heart disease could increase your chances for surviving a heart attack and stroke.
That’s why our job at St. Vincent’s East, is to help you know more, both about risks and about our complete cardiac services, should you need them.
You may only need us for our educational programs. Or you may need us to check out your chest pain. You might need us for a minimally invasive surgical procedure that helps you recover quickly and with fewer complications. Or you may need us for more extensive help.
Whatever the need, we’re constantly expanding our cardiology programs and services. That’s why St. Vincent’s East utilizes the latest technology to offer faster heart attack response. We also offer care within the tradition of compassion and mission that is uniquely St. Vincent’s.
But there are some important things that you might not know. Here’s our latest news and important information to keep your heart healthy.
St. Vincent’s East has once again been designated as a Blue Distinction Center for Cardiac Care by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama. The prestigious recognition demonstrates St. Vincent’s East’s commitment to quality care, resulting in better overall outcomes for cardiac patients.
To qualify, St. Vincent’s East was required to meet or exceed criteria demonstrating its ability to deliver a full range of cardiac care services, producing improved outcomes for patients. Among the criteria measured were inpatient cardiac care, cardiac rehabilitation, cardiac catheterization, and cardiac surgery. We’re proud that St. Vincent’s East is one of only five hospitals in the state to carry this designation.
Peripheral Artery Disease, or PAD, occurs when blood vessels in the legs and feet become narrowed or blocked by a buildup of a fatty substance called plaque. Here are some PAD symptoms:
• Difficulty keeping up with others when walking
• Dull, cramping pain in the hips, thighs, or calf muscles during exercise or at rest
• Changes in skin color or temperature
• Infections or sores that do not heal
• Pain, numbness, tingling, or burning in the legs, toes, or feet
But about 75% of all people with PAD experience no symptoms at all. A screening known as Ankle Brachial Index (ABI) can determine the blood circulation in your legs and feet. This simple test measures the ratio of blood pressure in the ankle to that in the arm to determine your risk of PAD. Ask your doctor if this screening is right for you.
PAD laser therapy is available at St. Vincent’s East Cardiovascular Department, one of only two national training centers for the treatment of Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD).Credentialed as a Center of Excellence in Excimer Laser Ablation Therapy, the department employs “cool” laser ablation, a minimally invasive procedure that removes blockages. This new technology can restore blood flow to the legs and feet, helping prevent amputation.
Door-to-balloon time is the speed in which a hospital can perform angioplasty or other coronary procedures for a patient having a heart attack. The timer starts when a patient enters the hospital and extends from how fast the Emergency Department diagnoses the heart attack through the physician’s reopening of the blood vessel. One of the reasons St. Vincent’s East is considered Your Heart Hospital is that it is a leader in door-to-balloon time. That faster response can help you not only survive, but get back to your “real” life when you have no time to waste.
Surgeons at St. Vincent’s East are continuing to enhance the way heart surgery is performed by implementing the latest in tissue repair technology. Called CorMatrix ECM™ for Pericardial Closure, this technique allows patients to remodel their own cardiovascular tissue following open heart surgery. The CorMatrix ECM™ is sutured onto the opening in the pericardium. It then serves as a scaffold for the patient’s own cells, allowing those cells to infiltrate and ultimately replace and remodel the scaffold, spurring the body’s own natural healing process. This unique tissue repair technology has been performed on more than 1,000 patients at St. Vincent’s East and St. Vincent’s Birmingham since 2007.
We don’t mind being called a “one-stop” Heart Hospital. Folks call us that because of the wide range of our cardiology services. In addition to the latest technological advances, we continue to offer a full range of diagnosis and treatment options, including:
• Ultrasound Exams
• Non-Invasive Cardiovascular Services
• Cardiac Stress Tests
• 24-Hour Holter Monitoring
• Cardiac Catheterization
• Carotid Stenting
• Coronary (Balloon) Angioplasty
• Coronary Arterial Stenting
• Directional Coronary Arthrectomy
• Electrophysiology Study
• Radio Frequency Ablation
• Permanent Pacemaker
• Automatic Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator
• Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery
• Heart Valve Replacement or Repair Surgery
• Cardiac Rehabilitation
Heart-healthy nutrition, physical activity, eliminating tobacco, and following your doctor's recommendations are all part of reducing your risk for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. Key components of heart health are monitoring and controlling cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
Our professionals, from physicians to nurses, physical therapists to dietitians, want to help you get healthy and stay that way. We hope you’ll access our full range of services, from regular physician check-ups to support groups that can help you craft a healthy lifestyle. We even have an online health encyclopedia you can access at any time.
Or, contact our Dial-A-Nurse line, listed below, to learn about smoking cessation, exercise programs and other wellness services, including heart-happy diets.
An important part of St. Vincent’s health care emphasis at this Heart Hospital is our emphasis on nutrition. Click here for a heart-healthy recipe.
Many people don’t know that heart disease is the leading killer of women. They also don’t know that women often have different heart disease symptoms than men. Rather than the crushing chest pain men typically describe, women may have a sharp, burning sensation in their chest, jaw, neck or back. A woman may credit some heart disease symptoms, like heart palpitations, fatigue or nausea, to hormonal changes.
St. Vincent’s East physicians are trained to consider all possibilities, separating heart disease from other concerns. Women with high blood pressure, diabetes or elevated cholesterol are at a higher risk, as are women with mitral valve prolapse or those taking thyroid medications. A family history of heart disease also increases your chances of heart disease, even if you have none of the other risks.
That’s why it’s so important for women with any of these risk factors to establish a primary care provider in addition to their gynecologist by age 40. Call St. Vincent’s Dial-A-Nurse at 939-7878 to assist you with finding a physician.
Maybe you need to learn more what it takes to have a healthy heart. Or maybe you need to have a few things checked out. Or maybe you need to alter your lifestyle to make sure your heart stays healthy. To learn more about all of the heart services at St. Vincent’s East, call St. Vincent’s Dial-A-Nurse at (205) 939-7878. It’s a free service, designed for Your Heart Hospital to share all the news you need to know.