At The Heart & Vascular Specialists, we specialize in general and interventional cardiology. If you or a loved one are in need of a complex cardiology procedure to be performed in the hospital setting, you can count on our highly skilled cardiologists to deliver a superior level of care and patient satisfaction.
Our cardiologists perform Heart Catheterizations, also known as Cardiac Catheterizations, in the hospital setting with a team of medical professionals such as nurses and technicians. A Heart Catheterization can check for narrowed or blocked blood vessels which could be causing chest pain, identify problems with your heart’s valves, take a measurement of the amount of oxygen and pressure inside of your heart, perform a heart tissue biopsy, and confirm whether a congenital (birth) heart defect exists. Further, a Heart Catheterization can be used to evaluate whether further treatment is necessary. During a Heart Catheterization procedure, a long narrow tube known as a catheter is inserted into an artery or vein that is located in your neck, arm, or groin area. Once inserted, the catheter is then very carefully threaded through your blood vessel until it reaches your heart. When the catheter is properly in place, we can then run diagnostic tests that allow us to look at the vessels and chambers of the heart through the utilization of a special x-ray machine.
Our cardiologists insert stents, which are small and expandable tubes, into blood vessels (generally arteries) that have become narrowed or blocked either partially or completely due to various diseases or health conditions. Stenting always takes place in a hospital setting. Coronary stents are used in arteries located in the heart. Aside from opening narrowed arteries, coronary stents can also reduce chest pain and help to treat a heart attack. Vascular stents can be used in arteries located anywhere in the body. Arteries generally become narrow when plaque, a fatty substance, attaches to the walls of the arteries. Overtime as plaque builds up, the arteries become narrow and restrict blood flow. When plaque builds up in the coronary arteries, opening the arteries back up is very important, as when the coronary arteries are narrow and fail to supply the heart with fresh, oxygen-rich blood, this situation becomes particularly threatening to a patient’s health since the heart simply cannot function.
Coronary Angioplasty, or Angioplasty for short, is an in-hospital procedure that involves the use of a tiny balloon to open clogged, narrowed, or blocked blood vessels known as coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart. A coronary artery stent, which is a small, expandable, metal mesh tube that expands inside of a coronary artery, is often placed during or immediately after an Angioplasty procedure for the purpose of preventing the artery from closing up again. Angioplasty is performed with no major incision, mild sedation and local anesthesia. The procedure generally takes about one hour if only one stent is needed. Angioplasty is a minimally invasive alternative to Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery. Patients who have Angioplasty report significantly less discomfort and a shorter recovery time compared to those who have Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery.
Pacemakers are electronically charged medical devices that are implanted under your skin. Most commonly, Pacemakers are implanted to help manage arrhythmias, which are also commonly known as irregular heartbeats. You may need a Pacemaker if your heart is pumping too quickly (tachycardia) or too slowly (bradycardia). Whether you are experiencing tachycardia or bradycardia, your body does not get enough blood and both conditions can lead to fatigue, feelings of weakness, lightheadedness, fainting, shortness of breath, vital organ damage, and even death. Implanting a Pacemaker is a relatively simple procedure that takes one to two hours for our cardiologists to perform in a hospital setting. You’ll receive a sedative to help you relax and local anesthetic to numb the incision site. You will be awake during the entire implantation procedure.
The Watchman is a permanent heart implant device that reduces the risk of stroke and provides patients with atrial fibrillation that is not caused by a heart valve problem (known as non-valvular AFib) an alternative to the lifelong use of Warfarin. Warfarin is the most common blood thinner. The long-term use of Warfarin is problematic as it can lead to bleeding, and patients using Warfarin are restricted from certain foods and drinks and must undergo regular blood testing. The Watchman device does not need to be replaced and cannot be seen outside of the body.
Valvuloplasty is a procedure to prepare a heart valve that has a narrowed opening. When a patient has this heart condition, their heart valve’s flaps (leaflets) may become thick and stiff. They may also fuse together, a condition known as stenosis. In either case, the narrowed valve opening results in a reduction in blood flow through the valve. We may recommend Valvuloplasty to patients who have severe valve stenosis and are experiencing symptoms. Valvuloplasty may improve blood flow through the valve and simultaneously improve the patient’s symptoms.
A Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO) is essentially a hole in the heart that did not close as it should have after birth. It is estimated that about 25 percent of the population have a Patent Foramen Ovale. Most people with a PFO never know that they have it. While most people do not need treatment for this disorder, a PFO closure surgery may be recommended in some cases. For example, if a patient experiences low a blood oxygen level that is linked to the PFO, closure may be recommended. Further, close of the Patent Foramen Ovale may be the best option for patients who have experienced recurring strokes for unexplained reasons.
The human heart has four main valves. You can think of these four valves as gates or doors. They allow blood to flow through your heart in one direction. The mitral valve is found between your heart’s two left chambers. The mitral valve has flaps that open and close. These flaps allow blood to flow out of the top chamber and travel to the bottom chamber. In some instances when the mitral valve does not close tightly enough, blood can flow backwards. When blood flows backwards, it goes from the bottom chamber to the top chamber and travels towards your lungs. This condition is known as mitral valve regurgitation. Symptoms of mitral valve regurgitation include feeling tired and out of breath, dizziness, and swelling in the legs and feet. If mitral valve regurgitation is not detected or is left untreated, this condition can lead to chest pain, irregular heartbeat, and even heart failure. Fortunately, mitral valve clipping is a procedure that effectively treats this condition without the need for open heart surgery. During a mitral valve clipping, a small metal clip known as a mitral valve clip is attached to the abnormal part of your valve to close it tightly. The rest of the valve opens and closes normally. Mitral valve clipping is a great option for some patients as this procedure effectively minimizes or even prevents mitral valve regurgitation.
An EKG is a recording of the heart’s electrical signals. EKGs are routinely used in our cardiology practices to obtain valuable information regarding a patient’s heart health. A patient’s heart rate, heart rhythm, and numerous heart conditions can all be detected with an EKG. Some EKG abnormalities are nothing to worry about, as they are considered normal variations of a heart’s rhythm. Other times, an abnormality detected on an EKG can be indicative of something more serious, such as a dangerous arrhythmia or even a medical emergency such as a heart attack. EKGs are sometimes referred to as Electrocardiograms or ECGs.
An echocardiogram, also referred to as an echo or ultrasound of the heart, is a cardiology test that uses sound waves to produce live images of the heart. An echocardiogram may be ordered due to abnormalities detected through tests such as an EKG or while listening to a patient’s heart with a stethoscope. An echocardiogram provides very valuable information regarding how well a patient’s heart and heart valves are functioning. Echocardiograms can detect blood clots in the heart, fluid retention in the sac surrounding the heart, and also issues involving the aorta, which is the main artery connected to the heart. An echocardiogram is painless for the patient. Echocardiograms are also routinely used following a heart attack to determine the health of the heart muscle. Additionally, echocardiograms may also be ordered when a patient complains of heart problems, such as shortness of breath or chest pain.
A Carotid Ultrasound, which is also referred to as a Carotid Doppler or Carotid Duplex, is an ultrasound test that shows the carotid arteries. Carotid arteries are those blood vessels in the neck that provide blood flow to a person’s brain. During a Carotid Ultrasound, ultrasound waves are used to produce images of the carotid arties. Patients experience no risks or pain when having a Carotid Ultrasound. In fact, the same ultrasound technology that is used on a pregnant woman to produce images of the fetus is used on a Carotid Ultrasound. A Carotid Ultrasound also shows how much blood flows through the carotid arteries and how fast that blood travels. Carotid Ultrasounds are very effective in detecting whether there is a blockage or abnormality in the carotid arteries that could lead to the patient experiencing a stroke. Further, Carotid Ultrasounds can also detect whether the patient’s carotid arteries have narrowed, which normally is caused by cholesterol deposits. Carotid Ultrasounds are routinely performed on patients who have had a stroke or are at a high risk for having a stroke.
A Nuclear Stress Test utilizes a small amount of radioactive substance, known as a radionuclide, to determine key information about a patient’s heart health and blood flow to the heart. A principal objective of a Nuclear Stress Test is to identify whether any areas of the heart muscle are not receiving adequate blood flow during exercise. Nuclear Stress Tests can also detect damage to the heart and blockages or narrowing of the coronary arties. Further, Nuclear Stress Tests provide insight on how well the heart is pumping blood, the size of the heart chambers, and the effectiveness of current cardiology treatments. The Nuclear Stress Test can be performed while a patient is exercising or at rest and takes approximately three to four hours. Even though the patient is exposed to a very small amount of radiation, the Nuclear Stress Test is considered to be safe. A Nuclear Stress Test is also referred to as a radionuclide test, thallium stress test, or myocardial perfusion scan. Our practice is proud to be accredited by the ICAEL to perform Nuclear Stress Tests.
When you are exercising, it is very important that your heart receives adequate oxygen and blood flow. An Exercise Stress Test, which is also referred to as an Exercise Test or Treadmill Test, helps us to determine if your heart is getting the oxygen and blood flow it needs while you are exercising. The Exercise Stress Test is performed on a treadmill while you are hooked up to an electrocardiogram (EKG) machine that allows us to monitor your heart rate. Exercise Stress Tests may be ordered for numerous reasons, including when a patient has been experiencing chest pains or other symptoms of coronary artery disease, which is also known as coronary heart disease. When a patient is starting a new or more strenuous cardiovascular exercise program, an Exercise Stress Test may also be used to reveal what level of exercise a patient can safely handle.
If we feel that we need more information about your heart than a routine Electrocardiogram (EKG) can give us, we may ask that you undergo Holter Monitor Testing. This simple test involves you wearing a Holter for 12 to 48 hours as you go about your daily routine. A Holter is simply a very small, battery-powered device that can detect not only your heart’s rate and rhythm, but also irregularities and discomfort such as chest pains. Holter Monitor Testing can sometimes provide more insight than EKGs, as you may experience heart irregularities that do not show up on EKGs due to the very brief time frame in which an EKG is performed. Holter Monitor Testing can also be more effective due to the “come and go” nature of some cardiac symptoms, abnormalities and arrhythmias. In these situations, monitoring for a longer period of time is necessary and better shows us how your heart performs on a long-term basis. Holter Monitor Testing can also provide insight into why you may be experiencing symptoms such as dizziness, feelings of weakness, or feeling as though your heart is beating rapidly or skipping a beat. Further, if you are already being treated for heart problems, wearing a Holter can show us if your current medications are working effectively or if modifications need to be made.
A Cardiac Event Monitor records your heart rate and rhythm and is approximately the size of a pager. Cardiac Event Monitors are used when patients need longer term monitoring than Holters due to experiencing symptoms that occur less than once per day.
You will need to come in to our office for a complete Pacemaker Check six weeks after your Pacemaker Implantation Surgery. Thereafter, your Pacemaker will need to be checked every six months. We will check your Pacemaker using a telephone transmitter to determine battery function. When the battery gets low, generally after six to seven years, the Pacemaker will need to be replaced.
Varicose veins, which are typically found in the legs, occur when one-way valves fail and allow blood to flow backward, which causes blood to pool in the vessels. Venous ablation is used to treat varicose veins. This treatment uses radiofrequency or laser energy to close off abnormally enlarged veins. As the energy applied seals off the faulty blood vessels, the body automatically and almost immediately diverts blood flow to healthy veins that are located nearby. While venous ablation may improve or even resolve some cosmetic complaints, it is more commonly used to alleviate issues and symptoms such as circulatory problems as well as pain, aching, swelling, ulcers, discoloration, and inflammation in the legs.
Arterial and Venous Doppler Scans of both the upper and lower extremities are conducted using a handheld device known as a transducer. The transducer is applied to the areas of the arms or the legs where the arteries and the veins are found. Arterial and Venous Doppler Scans work by using sound waves to produce a visual image of an artery or vein. Once the visual image is produced, the blood flow inside the actual artery or vein is measured. Arterial and Venous Doppler Scans can effectively detect problems with valves in the veins. They can also be used to detect blood clots and blockages in the arteries that supply your legs or arms with vital blood flow. If a blockage is found, these scans can effectively indicate the severity and location of the blockage.