We want to help you keep your heart healthy. Check back often for the latest news and tips and all the ways we’re working to keep the best heart care close to home. Learn even more at www.southcoast.org/heart.
Check out the Standard Times feature story on the impella device that was recently implanted on a patient at Charlton by our cardiac surgery team.
Southcoast’s Cardiac Surgery Program was once again in the news! Check out the television feature that recently ran on WJAR-TV Channel 10.
Knowing how to administer CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) is a great skill to have, and one that could potentially save a life. But many people don’t learn this procedure because it usually means taking (and paying for) an hours-long class. Fortunately, there’s an alternative: the Family & Friends® CPR Anytime® Personal Learning Program is a kit that allows anyone to learn the core skills of CPR in just 20 minutes. The program covers adult hands-only CPR; child CPR; choking relief for adults and children; and a general overview of automated external defibrillators, or AEDs. You aren’t officially CPR certified once you finish the course, but research has shown that completing CPR Anytime® is equivalent to attending a conventional CPR course when it comes to learning the core skills of CPR.
Southcoast is proud to provide CPR Anytime® kits to organizations in our community. When it comes to heart health, we’re all in this together, and it benefits us all to have as many people familiar with CPR as possible. If your organization would like to know more about obtaining a CPR Anytime® kit, give us a call at 800-497-1727.
Southcoast’s Structural Heart Program is once again in the news. This week, Dr. Saltzman and one of his patients were featured in The Fall River Herald News.
The story is about the new procedure we are offering for the treatment of atrial fibrillation, which we discussed in a recent post.
When it comes to cardiac care, Southcoast has a lot of pretty amazing tools in its toolbox. One of the most amazing, however, has to be the Impella 5.0 heart pump, which is a relatively new addition to the cardiac care landscape.
Heart pumps are not uncommon. They have been used for many years during cardiac surgeries, taking over part of the heart’s functions while the operation takes place. But the Impella 5.0 is the first heart pump that takes over 100% of the heart’s function – and pumps 5 liters of blood per minute, just like the heart – before, during, and for a few days after surgery. This allows the heart, which is usually already weakened and stressed, to rest and heal. And if other parts of the body, such as kidneys or the liver, are suffering as well, they get the benefit of a fully functioning heart to aid in their own healing.
The Impella 5.0 made its debut recently in Southcoast’s cardiac services program. It saved the life of a patient whose heart – as well as the rest of his body – were seriously damaged by numerous, successive heart attacks. The plan to use the Impella 5.0 was devised by a team of Southcoast experts, each from a different cardiac sub-specialty. It’s a perfect example of how out breadth of services allows us to offer the kind of cutting-edge, lifesaving procedures and resources that aren’t usually available in community hospitals.
Stay tuned for this patient’s incredible story in the local news, or learn more on our website.
We live in a remarkable age where information about just about anything is available at the touch of a button. It’s empowering to have all of this knowledge at your fingertips, but it can be confusing, too, especially when it comes to your health.
You don’t have to go far to find someone claiming they’ve discovered the key to living a long, healthy life, whether it’s eating or avoiding a certain food; taking a certain supplement; or exercising a certain way. All too often, the people or companies telling you these things are trying to sell you that certain food, supplement, or exercise program, and they love to invoke the power of science to make their point. “Studies prove it!” they’ll say. Or even more specifically: “Amazing research from [Harvard, Yale, the Mayo Clinic] says it’s true!”
But is it?
Before you make any change in your lifestyle, do your research. If a study is as groundbreaking as it’s made out to be, there’s going to be information about it beyond what’s contained in a banner ad on your favorite website or quick piece on the evening news. And always remember: correlation does not equal causation. In other words, scientists may find that subjects who ate food “X” had fewer heart attacks, but does that mean that food “X” was the cause of the decrease in heart attacks? Not necessarily, but you can bet that purveyors of food “X” want you to believe that it was.
Remember that you have a powerful ally in this area: your doctor. If you’re curious about something you’ve seen or read, talk it over with your physician and see what she has to say. Her wisdom and experience can help you separate fact from fiction.
It’s rather fitting that February – the month we associate with Valentine’s hearts – is also American Heart Month. For 50 years now, February has offered us a chance to reflect on just how much heart disease affects us. This year, like every year, more than half a million Americans will die from heart disease. In fact, heart disease is still the leading cause of death for both men and women in this country.
But American Heart Month can also be a time to reset your heart health priorities and take action. It doesn’t have to be a monumental move – small, positive steps can really add up. Take an extra walk. Get your cholesterol checked. If you haven’t quit smoking yet, try decreasing the amount you smoke by a little each day. Identify one habit that needs changing, and change it… even just a little. If you’re already on top of managing your heart health, take time to support a friend or loved one’s efforts. Give them the benefit of your knowledge and experience.
This American Heart Month, let’s invest (or re-invest) in our hearts. And our lives.
Have you ever noticed that no matter where you go, the way supermarkets are laid out is remarkably similar? From Fall River to Fresno, most grocery stores place their produce, meat, dairy and bakery sections around the perimeter of the store, with canned goods and other processed foods in the center aisles. This has led some to surmise that the perimeter of the store is where the healthy stuff can be found.
The truth is not quite that simple. When you’re trying to follow a heart-healthy diet, sticking to the perimeter of your favorite store is definitely a great way to make sure you pick up plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables; lean, unprocessed meats; and healthy dairy products like low-fat yogurt.
However, for most of us, it’s hard to do all of your shopping on the outside ring. After all, beans, nuts, brown rice and often frozen fruits and vegetables are located in the middle of the store, and those items are certainly welcome in a heart-healthy diet.
And don’t forget that the deli section, which is usually on the perimeter, is full of high-salt, processed meats, and the nearby bakery section has donuts, high-fat muffins, and cakes on display with the whole-wheat baguettes.
Instead of confining yourself to one area of the grocery store, a better idea is to go shopping armed with a list and the will to stick to it. You may find that many of your choices come from the perimeter anyway, and when you wade into the aisles for the rest of your items, you’ll be less tempted to give in to impulse buys.
Like many “rules,” the one about shopping only around the outside of your store should be taken with a grain of salt — which is, of course, located deep in the center of the store and best avoided.
If you’re looking for a new physical activity to incorporate into your existing exercise regimen, why not consider yoga? A combination of meditative breathing and stretching, yoga has been shown to help lower blood pressure, increase lung capacity, improve heart rate and boost circulation. It can also increase muscle tone, and you’ll likely feel its calming benefits after your very first session.
If you’re worried that you’re not fit or flexible enough for yoga, keep in mind that there are many variations of this ancient practice, and not all of them involve twisting yourself into a pretzel! For instance, chair yoga is a gentle form of practice that can be done seated in – you guessed it – a chair, and laughter yoga combines the very real healing benefits of laughter with simple movements.
Check with gyms, YMCAs, and community centers in your area to see what kind of classes they offer, or borrow a DVD from your local library to explore yoga in the comfort of your own home. As always, check with your doctor before giving yoga, or any new exercise regimen, a try. And remember: the benefits of yoga are many, but it’s not a substitute for the aerobic exercise we all need to keep our hearts healthy.
Believe it or not, your heart has its own appendage of sorts; that is, a part that serves no real purpose but can cause big trouble if something goes wrong. The left atrial appendage (LAA) is a little pouch that empties into the heart’s left atrium, and when everything’s working as it should, that appendage squeezes in rhythm with the rest of the heart, and the blood keeps moving.
However, when an arrhythmia like atrial fibrillation causes the heart to beat irregularly, blood may stagnate in the LAA and form clots, which can lead directly to heart attack or stroke. In fact, it is thought that in patients with atrial fibrillation, 90% of stroke-causing clots originate in the LAA.
Usually, patients with atrial fibrillation are required to take blood thinners for the rest of their lives to prevent the formation of such clots. Blood thinners, such as Coumadin, are not easy medications to take: they require frequent blood testing and dietary restrictions. Some newer anticoagulants like Pradaxa and Xarelto don’t require frequent testing but no antidote exists for these medications. Hence, bleeding while on these medications can be quite severe.
But recent studies have shown that closing off the LAA entirely is as effective as blood thinners in preventing those dangerous clots. To close the LAA, a physical plug is inserted into the appendage with a catheter or with a suture through the outside sac of the heart with a non-surgical procedure and effectively blocks off the appendage, not allowing blood to pass through or collect in it at all. Patients who have bleeding problems or have difficulty maintaining appropriate level while on blood thinners are candidates for these procedures. After the procedure patients don’t need to take blood thinners anymore.
LAA closure is just one of the state-of-the-art treatment options Southcoast is proud to offer through the Cardiovascular Care Center. Our expert cardiologists are some of the few members of their field to have received extensive training in this type of non-surgical procedure, which are often not available at community hospitals like ours. As always, we are proud to bring these world-class services to you – no trips to Boston or New York necessary.