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Heart Services: Procedures, Surgery & Rehabilitation

Heart Procedures

  • Cardiac catheterization: Minimally invasive procedure in which a long, thin tube is inserted in an artery or vein in the arm or groin and threaded to the heart. A physician can then perform diagnostic tests to assess how open the arteries to the heart are and how well the heart is working.  The physician can also insert balloons and/or stents if a blockage is present.
  • Percutaneous Transluminal Coronary Angioplasty (PTCA): PTCA is a procedure in which a balloon-tipped catheter is inserted into a narrowed artery of the heart. The balloon is inflated, which pushes the plaque to the sides of the vessel walls and opens the artery for blood flow. The balloon is then deflated and removed.
  • Stent placement: When a coronary artery has a significant blockage, it may require more than PTCA to open the vessel for blood flow. In these cases, placing a stent may be the best option. A stent is a small, mesh-like metal tube that is inserted into the narrowed artery on a balloon-tipped catheter. When the balloon is inflated, the stent expands and presses against the vessel walls. The balloon is deflated and removed, while the stent remains permanently. Some stents, called “drug-eluting stents,” also have medication in them to help keep the artery open.
  • Directional Coronary Atherectomy (DCA): In this type of procedure, the heart artery blockage is removed using a small, mechanically driven catheter inserted into the artery to shave and remove blockage from the artery wall.

Cardiac Surgical Interventions

  • Open Heart or Cardiac Surgery: Allows surgeons to perform a coronary artery bypass graft, which reroutes flow of blood around a blockage using a vessel from elsewhere in the body. During this procedure, a perfusion machine is used to pump blood through body while patient’s heart is stopped. In addition, surgeons can repair or replace valves during open heart surgery.  This surgery will help blood flow to the lungs and rest of body more efficiently.
  • Vascular Surgery: Vascular surgeons treat diseases of the circulatory system, including problems with the aorta, which is the main artery supplying oxygenated blood to the body, as well as blockages of the carotid artery in the neck.
  • Thoracic surgery: Refers to procedures located in the chest and can be used in the treatment of lung and esophagus issues like esophageal or lung cancer and emphysema.
  • Pacemakers and defibrillators: Common option for patients with slow heart rates or arrhythmias. A small device implanted in the chest emits electrical pulses or shocks to moderate the heart rate or rhythm.

Cardiac Rehabilitation

Cardiac rehabilitation not only aids in short-term recovery, but also ensures long-term health. Developing an exercise program helps patients regain strength, energy and confidence, as well as relieves stress and anxiety. It may also aid in weight loss, decrease cholesterol levels in the blood and regulate blood glucose levels, all of which can improve quality of life.

  • Phase I of cardiac rehab occurs while in the hospital. It consists of education and monitoring of heart rate and rhythm, paired with light activity like walking. This phase is aimed at ensuring patient has the knowledge required to return home safely from hospital stay.
  • Phase II begins shortly after discharge from hospital. For most patients, this outpatient exercise and education program takes place at various locations throughout our service area. During these monitored sessions, which last approximately one hour, patients will increase heart muscle strength and endurance using equipment like treadmills, stationary bicycles, recumbent steppers and free weights. One educational session will also be offered each week. The program generally lasts between 8 to 12 weeks. Memorial’s cardiac rehab teams include registered nurses, exercise physiologists, registered dietician, healthcare psychologist and exercise specialists who work with the patient’s personal physician to provide an individualized plan of care. The program is certified by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR) and overseen by a board-certified physician. We can also coordinate referrals with a registered dietician and/or counselor as needed.
  • Phase III focuses on maintenance—helping patients retain benefits gained during Phase II and sustain a healthy lifestyle in the years to come. This phase takes place at various affiliate locations. A registered nurse supervises sessions and is available to assist participants with blood pressure checks, oxygen evaluation and risk factor modification.