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.

New procedure uses sub-zero temperatures to heal the heart.

April 18, 2014 by Southcoast Hospitals Group

The toolbox at Southcoast’s Cardiovascular Care Center keeps getting better and better. One of the procedures our cardiologists who specialize in electrophysiology bring to the table is cardiac cryoablation. Cryoablation has been used in the treatment of arrhythmias, or irregular heartbeats. More recently cryoablation is being employed for  atrial fibrillation ablation. Recent studies have shown this to be more effective than medicines in treating atrial fibrillation.

The connections of the left top chamber of the heart to the pulmonary (lung) veins has been shown to be responsible for genesis of atrial fibrillation. The goal of atrial fibrillation treatment with procedure is to break these connections.

During this procedure, a thin tube is inserted into a vein in the patient’s leg and directed through the vein to the heart. When it reaches the targeted area, a tiny balloon at the end of the tube is inflated to the entire inner circumference of the entrance of the pulmonary vein to the atrium. The balloon is then cooled to sub-zero temperatures using a refrigerant like liquid nitrous oxide, which destroys the contacted cells and their ability to disrupt the normal rhythm of the heart. After the targeted tissue is frozen, the coolant is removed, the balloon deflated, and the catheter withdrawn.

The alternative technique to eliminate these triggers is by heating the tissue with radiofrequency ablation. Cryoablation has been shown in studies to cause less damage to the structures surrounding the heart like the esophagus (food pipe) that lies behind the heart. Patient also have been shown in studies to have less chest pain and inflammation after the procedure when compared to radiofrequency ablation with heat.

Cryoablation has become the first line of therapy for atrial fibrillation in many big centers in Boston and now is being offered at Southcoast Health System. Catheter-based cryoablation is  a procedure that takes only about two hours, with one night stay and return to normal activity within 2 to 3 days.

However, like any procedure rare complications such as bleeding, perforation of heart, stroke, narrowing of pulmonary veins and death can occur. Please contact our doctors to discuss this further.

Learn more about Dr. Sood, one of the electrophysiologists who perform this procedure at Southcoast.

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Categorized Treatment

Take to the Skies

April 10, 2014 by Southcoast Hospitals Group

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Living with heart disease should be just that: living. If your definition of living includes traveling to places far away enough to necessitate air travel, your heart disease, heart condition, or past heart attack shouldn’t put an end to your journeys. Of course you should check with your cardiologist before making any plans. But if it’s been more than two weeks since surgery or a heart attack, you don’t have an unstable arrhythmia or angina, and you do a good job managing your heart disease in general, your doctor should give you the green light to fly.

Here are some tips to make your flight as stress-free as possible:

  • Take your medication. That is, take it with you in your carry-on bag. Make sure you have more than enough for the duration of your trip, and keep your cardiologist’s name and contact info handy.
  • Check your bags. The extra fee most airlines charge for a checked bag is no fun, but it’s worth it to not have to lug a heavy suitcase through the airport just to have to try to wedge it into the overhead compartment. Lock it, label it and let the baggage handlers do the heavy lifting.
  • Don’t stress at security. If you have a pacemaker or other heart device installed, make sure to let the security personnel know before you’re scanned. If you’d rather be more discreet, the TSA has a notification card you can download and print; simply hand it to the agent when you get to the front of the line. Rest assured you won’t be the first person they’ve encountered with such a device.
  • Move around. If your flight is more than two hours long, walk the aisle when you can to keep your circulation moving and blood clots at bay. Just make sure the seatbelt light is off, and steer clear of the beverage cart.
  • Stay hydrated. Accept any (non-alcoholic) complimentary drinks offered to you, and consider picking up a bottle of water or other healthy drink in the airport to take on-board. And all those trips to the bathroom will ensure you take periodic walks!
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Categorized Prevention

National Walking Day is April 2

March 31, 2014 by Southcoast Hospitals Group

Are you the kind of person who needs an event to kickstart a healthy lifestyle change? If so, you’re in luck, because National Walking Day (NWD) is just around the corner. The American Heart Association launched the first NWD a few years ago to get people off of their seats and in motion for the sake of their hearts.

On Wednesday, April 2, people all over the country will lace up their sneakers and head out for a stroll they might not have otherwise taken. Communities from coast to coast have special events and walks planned for NWD, but if yours isn’t one of them, why not get the ball rolling yourself? The AHA offers toolkits to promote NWD in your area – click here to see about getting your own.

You don’t have to be an official organizer to participate, though. Get a group from your office to take a walk at lunchtime, or better yet, turn one of the day’s meetings into a walking meeting! Or just pledge to pound the pavement for 30 minutes by yourself that day… and every day.

Remember, heart disease is still the #1 killer of men and women in the US, but physical activity – even just putting one foot in front of the other – can lower your risk significantly. Starting a walking regimen is a simple way to introduce an incredibly healthy habit into your life. And it may just help you usher in others. So mark your calendar and get ready to walk!

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Categorized Prevention

Braving the Weather

March 12, 2014 by Southcoast Hospitals Group

SIt’s been a long, cold, snowy winter here in Southern New England. When the days are short and there’s ice and snow all around, it’s easy to let your exercise routine wane, especially if you exercise primarily outdoors. But you can – and should – still get outside. Even a little bit of outdoor activity and sun exposure can brighten your mood and energy level, as long as you keep a few things in mind:

  • Dress properly. It seems like a no-brainer, but the colder it is outside, the more clothes you need. Dress in layers, make sure your hands and feet are well-covered, and always wear a hat.  If you’re lucky enough to be out on a very sunny day, a good pair of sunglasses is essential to protect your eyes from snow glare. And don’t skip the sunscreen!
  • Know the forecast. Pay close attention to the wind chill factor, which can make the air feel many degrees colder than it actually is, and layer accordingly. If the wind chill is -20 degrees Fahrenheit or colder, stay inside.
  • Know how to recognize and protect yourself from frostbite.
  • Take it easy. Walking or running outside in nice weather is a lot different than doing so when it’s ten degrees. Don’t overexert yourself, and don’t be discouraged if you can’t do your usual workout. You may find that even a quick (and careful) walk around the block will keep cabin fever at bay!
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Categorized Prevention

Southcoast’s Cath Lab Beats the Clock

March 7, 2014 by Southcoast Hospitals Group

HSouthcoast has a pretty impressive array of services to treat the cardiac needs of our region, but we’re particularly proud of our Cardiac Catheterization Lab (“Cath Lab” for short) at Charlton Memorial Hospital.

Our Cath Lab performs diagnostic angiograms/heart catheterizations and therapeutic procedures such as angioplasty or stents on elective and emergency patients 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It provides especially critical services for patients experiencing the most deadly kind of heart attack, the ST-elevation myocardial infarction, or STEMI, which is caused by a sudden and complete blockage in one of the arteries of the heart. For every minute that flow is blocked, there is an increasing amount of permanent damage to the heart muscle.

Our  cath lab handles the fourth highest volume of acute STEMI’s in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and is busier than any of the Boston academic medical centers for this specific emergency problem.

So with a STEMI, it’s a race against the clock. Our team of interventional cardiologists, physicians’ assistants, nurses, and specially-trained Cath Lab technicians work together to diagnose the STEMI and get a stent, balloon or similar lifesaving device into a patient’s blocked artery as fast as possible in order to restore flow.

How fast? A national health care system quality guideline for “door-to-balloon time” is just 90 minutes from the time the patient arrives in our Emergency Room to get them to the cath lab, perform a diagnostic angiogram and insert a balloon or stent to open the artery. And that clock is ticking whether the weather and traffic are good or bad, or whether team members are at home or on-site.

We’re proud to say that our Cardiac Cath Lab achieved or beat that 90-minute goal for 100% of all STEMI patients who came through our Emergency Department for an entire year. It’s a remarkable achievement for any hospital, and it’s yet another testament to the expertise, dedication and spirit of collaboration exemplified by Southcoast doctors and staff.

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Categorized Our Team, Treatment

Cardiac Surgery Follow-Up Story in Standard Times

March 4, 2014 by Southcoast Hospitals Group

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.

 

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Categorized Our Team, Treatment

Southcoast Cardiac Surgery in the News

March 2, 2014 by Southcoast Hospitals Group

Southcoast’s Cardiac Surgery Program was once again in the news! Check out the television feature that recently ran on WJAR-TV Channel 10.

News, Weather and Classifieds for Southern New England

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Categorized Our Team, Treatment

Learning CPR: The Express Route

February 27, 2014 by Southcoast Hospitals Group

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.

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Southcoast Cardiac Services in the News

February 24, 2014 by Southcoast Hospitals Group

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.

Read the Herald News article here.

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Categorized Our Team, Treatment

The Impella 5.0 Comes to Southcoast

February 23, 2014 by Southcoast Hospitals Group

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.

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Categorized Our Team, Treatment
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