Department Spotlight Cardiac: Catheterization Lab
February is American Heart Month, but our incredible heart heroes are here to serve you all year long. So please join us in honoring the Cardiac Cath Lab team at Renown Health! At the core of who we all are, we find the heart: one of the largest sources of life that gives us the blood and oxygen we need to live full and healthy lives. When the heart doesn’t function to the best of its ability, a delicate approach led by cardiac experts might be necessary. These individuals can not only save lives but also help facilitate a higher quality of life. The team entrusted to protect that vital source of life includes the hard-working and talented individuals in the Cardiac Catheterization Lab (a.k.a. “Cardiac Cath Lab” or “Cath Lab”) at Renown Health. These team members are known for their expertise, precision and quick-thinking in emergencies. When it comes to the function of your heart, you are in the best hands with this team. Their passion for Renown’s mission of making a genuine difference in the health and well-being of the people they serve is a testament to what they do every day. Cardiac Champions Whether the procedure is emergent or planned, the Cardiac Cath Lab wears many different hats. The team is a well-coordinated group of nurses, imaging professionals, electrophysiology technologists, interventional technologists and more who band together to provide a diverse array of services, including stent placements, pacemakers, balloon pumps, interventional angioplasties, TAVRs and of course, catheters. “A day in the life in the Cath Lab can go various ways,” said Erica Drummer, RN at Renown Health. “Every day, you are either a part of the electrophysiology team, doing cardiac ablations and placing devises such as pacemakers; the structural heart team, which includes MitraClips for mitral regurgitation and TAVRs; or the heart catheterization team, which includes diagnostic angiograms, heart catheterizations, angioplasties and stents for clogged arteries.” With the wide variety of cases the team sees daily, an average day in the Cath Lab consists of many moving parts. “We handle cases from left and right heart catheterizations, where we can diagnose and fix the artery right then, to electrophysiology cases like heart ablations and pacemaker implants, all the way to emergency STEMI (heart attack) patients,” said Michael Blankenship, Electrophysiology Technologist at Renown Health. “We do so many things in the Cath Lab,” added Laurel Douglas, RN, Imaging Manager at Renown Health. “We ensure we have 24/7 coverage for emergencies, as we often have to act at a moment’s notice to care for emergent situations.” Many of those emergency situations involve heart catheterization. If someone has a heart attack, the team immediately steps in to place stents to open the coronary arteries that are causing the attack. If a patient’s heart needs any assistance during an emergency, the team can place devices such as Impella (temporary ventricular support) or intra-aortic balloon pumps. Renown is a major advocate for advanced medical technology, and the Cardiac Cath Lab team embraces these technologies to perform life-saving procedures, all while working together as a cohesive unit. “We work amongst each other to ensure sterility, safety and the best outcome for each patient,” said Zohra Benbrahim, RN at Renown Health. “We try to fit in as many cases as possible into the workday, and sometimes after hours, so patients can get the care they need.” “Each team usually has 3-4 members, and each member has a critical job to carry out in order to implement excellent cardiac care,” added Erica Drummer, RN. “Many of our patients tell us that we all work well together, and I couldn’t agree more. We have become like a well-oiled machine or a NASCAR pit crew.” Naturally, patients undergoing any heart procedure might feel frightened and anxious. Never fear – the compassionate Cardiac Cath Lab team is here to ease those fears throughout each patient’s entire visit. Their main solution? Communication. “Being a patient in the Cath Lab can be daunting,” said Erica Drummer, RN. “When we have patients who may feel scared or have concerns, we try our best to connect with them, keep them informed and educate them on the procedure and the step-by-step process, including what they may feel before, during and after.” “Overall, we try to keep spirits light,” said Zohra Benbrahim, RN. “Our team is excellent at explaining the procedure as it is happening. We also advocate for comfort throughout the procedure, which helps tremendously with anxiety, including giving patients warm blankets and music of their choice!” Our experts in the cardiac Cath Lab make sure that no stone goes unturned when it comes to optimal heart function for every patient. Together, the team mends hearts and saves lives, day in, day out. A Growth Mindset Always learning, always improving, always reaching new heights – that's the Cardiac Cath Lab team. This team’s accomplishments speak for themselves on both a local and national scale. “Over the years, we have achieved several milestones, including becoming a STEMI Receiving Center, gaining our Chest Pain Center Accreditation (which is achieved by Cath Labs who provide emergent percutaneous coronary intervention for heart attack patients 24/7) and having our accredited electrophysiology program,” said Laurel Douglas, RN. “We also offer services that other facilities do not offer. We have brought in several new procedures to the Cath Lab over the years. This is impactful, as the community members get to stay here for treatment.” The Cath Lab team is anything but ordinary. There is never a dull moment in this department, and despite an ever-growing caseload, the team is always ready to rise to the challenge and continue pushing to surpass the average. “I am so proud of my team for providing care for such sick patients,” said Zohra Benbrahim, RN. “We never really know how the day is going to go because emergencies happen, and things always change. Recently, we had a record high volume of cases, and my team powered through these busy weeks like champs.” “We strive to get our STEMI door-to-balloon times at or below 60 minutes,” added Erica Drummer, RN. “Door-to-balloon time refers to the time from when a patient arrives in the ER to the time the Cath Lab has a catheter guide wire crossing the culprit lesion in the coronary artery that is causing the heart attack. The national average (and current guideline) is 90 minutes, so our 60-minute time is a notable accomplishment for us.” The importance of staying on top of your heart health comes center stage during American Heart Month, which is a prime opportunity for our cardiology professionals to educate the community and help them grow their cardiac knowledge. The cardiac quality team participates in community events throughout the month (and beyond!) to raise awareness for cardiac health. The team also outreaches to other health systems and healthcare partners to highlight what Renown has to offer in the way of heart care. Each Cath Lab team member always reminds patients about lifestyle choices and diet changes that can improve cardiovascular health, and they take this outreach with them all around Renown Regional Medical Center as well, walking through the hallways promoting many different ways of living a heart-healthy life. The journey continues! The team will soon welcome a new Cardiac Cath Lab at Renown South Meadows Medical Center. The new lab will allow our experts in heart care to treat patients at our South Meadows location experiencing a heart attack and needing immediate intervention to open vessels in their hearts. The team is looking forward to embracing even more access to emergent cardiac care for our community at large. Learn more about how Renown is building more ways to care for our community. Now Hiring for Heart Heroes Those looking to join a caring, committed and tight-knit group of cardiac care professionals will be in good company with the Cath Lab team. According to the members of this department, being a quick-thinking, dependable team member is key to predicting a successful Cath Lab professional. “A good coworker communicates with everyone and is able to be flexible when things get hectic,” said Zohra Benbrahim, RN. “Our team stays so close with each other because of everyone’s ability to recognize where help is needed. Especially in the Cath Lab, it is important to be always aware of the patient’s vitals and clinical presentation so you can speak up if you notice changes. There are always new procedures or products coming out that become integrated into our practices, so it’s also good to welcome new policies and be adaptive.” “We are a small team, and everyone sees each other as a friend,” added Laurel Douglas, RN. “We all know we will need help at some point, whether it be covering an on-call shift or helping during a procedure, so we all help each other. Teamwork and positive attitude are really what makes you a good team member.” Not only are these individuals dedicated to impacting the lives of patients with the very organ that beats life into them, but they also are devoted to Renown – and it shows. “I started working for Renown when I was 19 years old, and Renown was the medical system I went to for care; as I spent more time working here and becoming a part of the community, I could not see myself working anywhere else or getting care at any other hospital,” said Zohra Benbrahim, RN. “I truly believe Renown provides the best care and best serves the growing community of northern Nevada.” The Cath Lab team members agree that Renown is a great place to both start and continue your career. Many of them have taken advantage of Renown’s training and educational opportunities, which in turn have helped them expand their knowledge to better serve the community. “I chose to work at Renown because it gave me the place to grow in my career and experience different avenues within my career,” said Michael Blankenship. “I first started off as a student here, and I quickly realized that everybody I worked with genuinely cares for our patients. I started off in x-ray seeing patients and eventually did rotations up in the operating room, and I got hired full time in the Cath Lab. After a short time being here, I was crossed trained in the electrophysiology lab, where I furthered my knowledge in my career.” This dynamic department is actively hiring, and many open positions are sign-on bonus eligible. The team cannot wait to welcome you to their, as Erica Drummer puts it, “well-oiled machine.” “Being a Cath Lab nurse is very rewarding, especially when you’re able to be a part of a team that can save someone’s life,” Erica closes.
Read More About Department Spotlight Cardiac: Catheterization Lab
Getting to the HEART of Research
In February, we think about hearts not just in honor of Valentine’s Day but because it is American Heart Association Month. This is a great reminder to focus on our personal cardiovascular health. Renown Health helps patients think about their heart health with our world-class providers and cutting-edge treatments through our Cardiovascular Clinical Trials. “Research serves a vital role in the future care of cardiovascular diseases. Being involved in research will help our medical community to further discover new treatment plans in our quest for life preservation and extension,” Dr. Thomas To, Cardiologist and Researcher at Renown Health. For example, let’s talk about atherosclerosis. When our hearts are healthy, they are a strong muscle that pumps our oxygen-rich blood through our coronary arteries. Over time, cholesterol and fats can build up in our arteries. This is a condition known as atherosclerosis. This type of plaque buildup in the arteries can lead to a heart attack or stroke if not properly managed. If you are experiencing chest pain or discomfort, shortness of breath or pain in areas of the upper body, these can be the warning signs of a heart attack, and you should call 911. One contributing factor to atherosclerosis is elevated lipoprotein(a) levels and the accumulation of cholesterol in the arteries, which increases the likelihood of a heart attack or stroke. Lipoprotein(a) is tested separately from the standard panel that is completed for cholesterol management, and while your total cholesterol levels may be in a healthy range, lipoprotein(a) levels can still be elevated. "Increasingly we are realizing that lipoprotein(a) levels can be used as an important assessment in more carefully delineating an individual's risk of future cardiovascular events and treatment targets" said Dr. Michael Bloch, Lipid Specialist and Researcher at Renown Institute for Heart and Vascular Health. While it is clear that elevated lipoprotein(a) contributes to atherosclerosis, there are currently no approved medications for reducing cardiovascular disease risk through reducing lipoprotein(a) levels. This is why Renown Health’s Research Office is proud to offer a phase III clinical trial, called the OCEAN(a) study, to our patients with elevated lipoprotein(a) levels as a care option for management of their heart disease risk. Our teams of expert providers and researchers are here to support you on your healthcare journey. “I am thrilled to be able to be part of this study and bring opportunities like this to our patients. The highlight of my day is getting to hear life stories from my patients during our study visits,” Lisa Preciado, Primary Clinical Research Coordinator for the OCEAN(a) study said. Join us in raising awareness around American Heart Month by talking to your provider about lipoprotein(a) at your next appointment. At Renown Health, our goal is to make it easy for patients to access clinical research as a care opportunity where patients can access a variety of standard care treatment options for their health condition or choose to participate in a clinical trial. For more information about clinical trial opportunities available to you or to ask any questions, contact the Renown Research Office at Renown-CRD@renown.org or 775-982-3646.
Your Top 5 Questions about TAVR Answered
Your heart is the muscle in charge of pumping blood to your entire body. This vital organ is made up of chambers, valves and blood vessels. Your heart valves work similarly to a one-way door: they open and close, controlling blood flow in the correct direction through the heart chambers. For patients who have been diagnosed with a heart-related condition like aortic valve stenosis (narrowing), it is important to know treatment options. Most might think open-heart surgery is the only way to treat a heart valve, but many hospitals, including Renown, also offer a minimally invasive procedure called a Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR). Dr. Abhilash Akinapelli of Renown Institute for Heart & Vascular Health shares his answers to the top five TAVR questions: 1. What causes aortic valve stenosis? Aortic valve stenosis can be caused by a variety of factors. The main reasons being wear and tear of the valve due to aging; genetically abnormal heart valve (bicuspid aortic valve); long-standing high blood pressure; and other reasons like radiation exposure. 2. Am I a candidate for TAVR? Renown’s heart care teams are made up of your primary care provider, cardiologist and cardio thoracic surgeon. They will evaluate if patients are a good candidate for the TAVR procedure by performing a variety of screenings and tests. Some of these include: Echocardiogram Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) Chest X-ray Exercise tests or stress tests Cardiac computerized tomography (CT) scan Cardiac catheterization 3. What are the advantages of the TAVR procedure? The Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) procedure is much less invasive than open heart surgery, otherwise known as a Surgical Aortic Valve Replacement (SAVR). Patients can typically return to their normal lifestyles within a week after leaving the hospital. During the TAVR procedure, a stent valve mounted on a balloon is advanced to the heart through the blood vessels in the groin without any incision. Once in position, the balloon will be inflated to firmly expand the new valve inside the diseased old valve, pushing it away to the sides. Once the new valve is in place, it begins working immediately and the deflated balloon is removed. The surgical procedure is approximately one hour long. Patients can get up and walk after four hours and will be discharged the following day if no complications arise. Compared to a SAVR, recovery time is much shorter and less risky for patients above the age of 75. A big advantage for anyone who fits under the criteria for a TAVR. 4. Is the procedure painful? The TAVR procedure is not surgery, but you will still be asleep during the procedure. Since no incision is made, it is essentially a painless procedure. Patients may experience slight discomfort such as aches and pains at the entry site of the catheter. 5. Can I have an MRI and X-rays done after having a TAVR valve? Yes, patients can have MRI scans and X-rays after TAVR. For further questions and information about the TAVR procedure, please consult with your Renown heart care team at 775-982-2452 or through MyChart.
Staying Heart-Healthy with Genetic Screening
February is American Heart Month. While cardiac care is crucial every time of year – especially as heart disease stays the number one killer in the United States – American Heart Month serves as a great reminder to stay on top of your heart health. We spoke with Malina Ruiz, a cardiology nurse practitioner at Renown Health, on three key ways to embrace heart-healthy living and how genetic screening can help inform you of certain genetic risks that can play a role on the cardiac life stage. 1. Invest in a heart-healthy diet. Eating a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats (including monounsaturated fats such as avocados and polyunsaturated fats such as sunflower oil) is a key defense in protecting your cardiac health, according to Malina. While you are filling your plate with these nutritious foods, remember to keep an eye on your saturated and trans-fat intake, and try limiting foods that are high in those fats. “No matter what age we are, maintaining a heart-healthy diet will always be important,” said Malina. Need help finding cardiac-friendly meals? The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute makes it easy with heart-healthy recipes and tips from experts. 2. Do an exercise audit. “Keeping an active lifestyle during our younger years is one of the most important factors that affect heart health in future years,” said Malina. Maintaining a regular exercise regimen that allows you to raise your heart rate and break a sweat can help prevent future cardiac events. A good rule of thumb is to aim for 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise, which averages out to 30 minutes a day on 5 days out of the week. It’s never too late to start a regular exercise routine! Exercise doesn’t have to be something you dread – leverage American Heart Month to find activities that you enjoy. The American Heart Association can help you discover new ways to move your body. At the end of the day, as Malina emphasizes, “any movement is better than nothing!” 3. Don't skip those check-ups. Regular preventative visits with your primary care provider can help you identify possible risk factors for heart conditions before they start actively affecting your life. “Check-ups become even more important as we age, along with being aware of the signs and symptoms of heart disease, heart attack and stroke,” added Malina. There’s no time better than the present – call our expert scheduling team today at 775-982-5000 to request a preventative check-up with your primary care provider.
Read More About Staying Heart-Healthy with Genetic Screening
8 Reasons to See a Cardiologist
While February is recognized as American Heart Month, it’s important to prioritize your heart health 365 days a year. Cardiologists play an integral role in our overall health and wellbeing – they are the experts when it comes to preventing and treating heart and vascular diseases. Dr. Jad Al Danaf of Renown Institute for Heart & Vascular Health shares eight reasons to visit a cardiologist. 1. Abnormal EKG The American Heart Association states an electrocardiogram, abbreviated as EKG or ECG, is a recording of the heart’s electrical activity to measure the rate and rhythm of the contractions in the upper and lower chambers of the heart. An EKG detects heart problems or abnormalities. If you have an EKG that shows abnormal results, you’ll want to see a cardiologist. An abnormal EKG can mean many things, such as irregular heart rate, heart rhythm abnormalities in the shape or size of the heart, medication side effects, and more. A cardiologist is most qualified to evaluate an abnormal EKG and determine the cause. 2. Immediate family history of heart disease or sudden cardiac death Knowing your family health history is essential to identify if you’re at risk for certain health conditions such as heart disease. For example, if you’re aware of anyone in your immediate family who had or has had heart problems or passed away from sudden cardiac death. In that case, you’ll want to discuss it with a cardiologist so they can determine if screenings, medications, or lifestyle changes are needed to help lower your risk. 3. Chest pain or shortness of breath with exertion If you have chest pain or shortness of breath that starts or worsens with activity, it may indicate a heart problem, and you should schedule a visit with a cardiologist immediately. Severe chest pain might be a sign of a heart attack or other serious medical emergency. If you’re experiencing severe chest pain, shortness of breath, or any other signs of a heart attack, call 911 immediately. 4. High blood pressure Have you had a high blood pressure reading? If so, it’s recommended to consult with a cardiologist for further evaluation. High blood pressure puts you at risk for heart disease and stroke, as uncontrolled high blood pressure can damage arteries, reducing blood flow and oxygen to your heart and brain.
Hiking Through Life After TAVR
Renown Health patient, Alden Nash, hiking Death Valley National Park just three months after a Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement. Alden Nash isn’t your average 80-year-old. For much of his life, he could be found outdoors enjoying nature and hiking some of the west coast’s highest elevations. A husband and father of two, Alden turned his passion into a career as a Yellowstone park ranger in 1965. Alden believes his passion for the outdoors is responsible for his many years of health – until the unavoidable happened. The Hardest Climb The number one doctor recommendation for a healthy heart – lead a healthy, active lifestyle. Any cardiologist would be thrilled to have Alden as a patient due to his robust physical activity regimen. “Don’t have a TV set or a lounge chair in your house and you’re all set,” said Alden when asked how he has remained so fit throughout his senior years. Unfortunately, many other factors come into play when it comes to heart health, one of which is the reason we are telling Alden’s story today. Familial history - it’s a hot topic in the world of medicine. Understanding your genetic risk factors can help care providers develop updated care plans based on your results. Alden’s family has a long history of high cholesterol, which he avoided for much of his life by staying active. This combined with his age resulted in his first heart attack in December 2021. Doctors later determined that Alden was suffering from a type of heart valve disease known as aortic valve stenosis. Aortic stenosis is the narrowing of your aortic valve opening that impedes normal blood flow. Over time, the leaflets of your aortic valve become stiff, reducing their ability to fully open and close. When the leaflets don’t fully open, your heart must work harder to push blood through the aortic valve of your body. Eventually, your heart gets weaker, increasing the risk of heart failure. People who are most at risk for aortic stenosis include those who have had certain heart conditions present at birth, have chronic kidney disease or have heart disease risk factors such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure. However, generally, aortic stenosis is a degenerative process of aging with no modifiable risk factors. The incidence of aortic stenosis increases rapidly with age and is very common above the age of 80 – with 1/10 having the condition and 1/50 with a problem severe enough to warrant surgery. When symptoms are present, the disease can be rapidly disabling or even deadly, often progressing over several months unless treated.
Excellence in Heart Care Changes a Patient's Life
Being diagnosed with a chronic heart condition like atrial fibrillation (A-fib) can shift the course of your entire life. Embracing heart medications and lifestyle changes become your norm, and thanks to advancements in medicine and medical technology, managing the condition can bring you to a new sense of normalcy. But what if a different option was possible – one that would make medications and activity limits a thing of the past? This became the reality for Renown Health patient Richard Preyer after receiving a hybrid catheter ablation. Thanks to the vigilant surgical care of Shining Sun, MD, a cardiologist at the Renown Institute for Heart & Vascular Health, and his compassionate team, Richard has a new lease on life. Minimally Invasive with Maximal Results An A-fib patient since 2010 who had been living with an unfinished ablation, the 59-year-old Carson City resident turned to the internet to look for alternate solutions. He had heard that the Renown Institute for Heart & Vascular Health was a top-tier location for cardiovascular care. “I changed health insurance plans through Nevada Health Link to ensure I could see a Renown cardiologist,” said Richard. Choosing a cardiologist was an even easier decision for Richard. Dr. Sun’s introductory Find a Doctor video on Renown’s YouTube channel, where he displayed his expertise and determination, was more than enough for Richard to choose him as his cardiac care leader. At his first visit, Dr. Sun reviewed Richard’s records, and noted his prior unfinished ablation. The nine-hour procedure had been performed several years ago. With the enhanced technologies at Dr. Sun's disposal, Richard was excited at the thought of his life potentially being changed for good – with a minimally-invasive solution. Dr. Sun collaborated closely with Richard’s previous and current care teams – including a surgeon who performed a maze operation on him right before his surgery at Renown, to ensure his hybrid ablation was tailored uniquely to him. “Dr. Sun is clearly a very powerful cardiologist with many connections, and the coordination between his team and my other doctors was great,” said Richard. After working on the exterior of the heart in the first phase of the surgery and the interior of the heart during the second phase, Richard’s hybrid ablation was successful, completing the unfinished portion of his previous ablation. “Fixing A-fib can take one to three ablations, and sometimes it never holds,” said Richard. “That is one of the largest reasons why I am so thankful for this procedure and how it ended up.” Life After A-fib Now comes the long, arduous healing process, right? Not for Richard. With only eight incisions (four on each side of his chest), he was able to remove his bandages after two days, and he healed completely in one week. “I was even back to taking three-mile walks within a week of my operation,” said Richard. No more blood thinners. No more activity limits. And most importantly for Richard, no more heart-stabilizing medications that came with side effects he didn’t enjoy. He attributes his enhanced life to Dr. Sun and his team. “I highly recommend Dr. Sun and everyone that works with him,” he said. “Everyone in the group, from the nurses and anesthesiologists going above-and-beyond to the schedulers who helped me navigate the appointment process, made me have a lot of confidence. Their calm demeanors made so much difference.” Today, Richard now enjoys elongated walks in the northern Nevada outdoors, exotic vacations with his wife and, as he describes, “feeling like I’m in my 40’s again.” Learn more about the region's leader in cardiac health, heart and vascular care here.
Read More About Excellence in Heart Care Changes a Patient's Life
What is Heart Valve Disease?
Most people know the symptoms of a heart attack, but what about heart valve disease? We asked Renown Structural Heart Program Director, Dr. Abhilash Akinapelli, to explain more about common heart valve issues and how to treat them. What is heart valve disease? Heart valve disease happens when one or more of the heart’s valves doesn’t open and close correctly, which affects the flow of blood through the body. If left unmanaged, heart valve disease can lead to other complications such as stroke, blood clots or heart failure. There are a few types of heart valve disease, including: Valvular stenosis, where the valve opening is narrowed by the valve flaps becoming thick or stiff. Valvular insufficiency or regurgitation, where the valve flaps don’t close correctly, which can cause blood to leak and go the wrong direction back into your heart. What are some of the signs and symptoms that someone may have issues with their heart valves? Some people with heart valve disease might not feel any different or experience symptoms for quite some time, but if you notice any of the following symptoms, you should call your care provider: Fatigue Shortness of breath, especially when you've been active or when you lie down Swelling of the ankles or feet Dizziness Chest pain Irregular heartbeat If your care provider listens to your heart and notices an abnormal sound or heart murmur, he or she may recommend a visit to a cardiologist who can further test for heart valve disease. Are heart valve issues preventable? There are several risk factors that can increase the chance of heart valve disease. Among them: high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. These can all be prevented by living a healthy lifestyle through a heart-healthy diet, getting regular physical activity and avoiding tobacco use. A history of certain infections or a history of certain forms of heart disease or heart attack are also considered risk factors, as well as things out of our control, such as age and heart conditions present at birth. So if you or a loved one receives a diagnosis of heart valve problems, what treatment options are available? The Renown Institute for Heart and Vascular Health has many treatment options our heart care team can recommend. In some cases, your doctor may just want to closely watch the heart valve problem for a period. However, other options include medicine, or surgery to repair or replace the valve. Renown specializes in Transcatheter (minimally invasive) heart valve repair or replacement, including Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) and Transcatheter mitral valve repair (TMVR).
5 Things to Know About Women’s Heart Disease
Heart disease is more common in women than many people think. In fact, it is the leading cause of death in the United States, ahead of cancer and stroke. However, the common signs and symptoms we often associate with men and heart disease don’t always align with women. Thankfully, Renown Health is home to the first women’s heart center in Nevada. The Helaine Greenberg Women’s Heart Center gives women in our community the opportunity to receive exemplary care and education. “At the Women’s Heart Center, we are proud to offer the women of our community the treatments, therapies and education they need to fight this silent killer,” Dr. Danish Atwal. 1. The warning signs for heart disease present differently in women than they do in men. Both men and women may experience chest pain during a heart attack, but the similarity of symptoms ends there. Heart disease is especially problematic for women because more than half of women who die of heart disease have no symptoms at all. Women tend to have subtler symptoms that mimic symptoms associated with common, mild illnesses: Fatigue or weakness Pain, pressure or tightness in the center of the chest Pain that spreads to the upper body, neck or jaw Sweating, nausea or vomiting Sudden dizziness Shortness of breath Trouble sleeping 2. Women are often not treated with the same medications as men, even when they should be. Women are less likely to receive heart medication because their disease is often misdiagnosed or because they do not seek proper care. According to a study done by Harvard Health Publishing in 2020, “A general lack of awareness of women’s heart disease may lead to doctors or patients missing heart attacks in women or delaying their diagnosis. For example, while the frequency of cardiovascular disease tends to be lower in women before menopause than in men, the frequency dramatically increases after menopause, when it accounts for approximately one out of every three deaths in women. 3. Women who have hypertension, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes or gestational diabetes during pregnancy are at a higher risk of a heart attack in the future. Women who experienced complications related to developing high blood pressure or hypertension during pregnancy had a 63% increased risk for developing cardiovascular disease later in life, as stated by research funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. According to that same study, researchers found that early screenings and monitoring in four target areas – blood pressure, cholesterol levels, glucose levels and body mass index – could provide even more personalized targets to help delay or possibly prevent future cardiovascular events among women.
Read More About 5 Things to Know About Women’s Heart Disease
Trends in Cardiovascular Medicine Conference
Heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death in America and doctors face many challenges treating this and associated heart and vascular conditions. Renown is hosting a three-day conference to discuss the latest in cardiac care. Trends in Cardiovascular Medicine Doctors and healthcare providers across the region are gathering for the 32nd Annual Trends in Cardiovascular Medicine Conference Nov. 4th – 6th at the Resort at Squaw Creek in Olympic Valley, California, hosted by Renown Institute for Heart & Vascular Health and the Nevada Academy of Family Physicians. The three-day conference educates primary care providers, nurses and all other physicians and healthcare personnel interested in the most recent advances and current established guidelines for the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke and diseases or problems associated with heart disease. It is also a chance for medical providers to ask first-hand questions on a variety of trending topics ranging from the fentanyl crisis to medical clearance after COVID-19. The conference objectives include: Identifying factors that influence poor adherence to medicine and modifications in patients with cardiovascular disease. Gaining awareness of the misconceptions and facts about the fentanyl crisis in the U.S. Recognizing the approach to optimizing outpatient medical therapies for the heart failure patient. Learning the significance of Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) and indications for referral. Developing a comprehensive approach for female patients at risk of developing Atrial Fibrillation. Reviewing current guidance for medical clearance after COVID-19. Assessing the impact of bariatric surgery on cardiovascular risk. For a complete conference schedule, more information or to register for this conference, visit: renown.org/trends.
Read More About Trends in Cardiovascular Medicine Conference
Smart Watch Notification Saves a Life
In sailing, when you encounter rough seas, you can’t change the wind pattern, but you can adjust your sails. The same rings true for life. We confront unpredictable circumstances daily, but how we react to them can make all the difference. For Renown patient and avid sailor Robert (Dan) Seifers, recent events make this mantra reign true. A Concerning Alert Monday, Aug. 22, started out just like any other day for Dan. He was on a walk with his dog, enjoying the sunshine, when suddenly he felt a wave of dizziness and a buzz on his wrist. His Apple Watch alerted him that his heart rate had dropped to dangerous levels. Returning home immediately, he notified his wife, Carol. Doing their best not to panic, the couple confirmed the reading with their at-home blood pressure machine. The watch was right – Dan’s heart rate was in the low 30s. After taking some time to see if Dan’s heart rate would return to normal, the couple decided it was time he sought medical help. Conveniently, Carol had a lab appointment scheduled next door to Dan’s primary care physician, Dr. Bonnie Ferrara. The couple headed out the door, not realizing what the rest of the day would bring. The Next 48 Hours Upon arrival at the office, Dan calmly approached the front desk to explain his situation. With no delay, staff members sprang into action, quickly showing Dan to a patient room and notifying Dr. Ferrara. Before he knew it, Dan was receiving an electrocardiogram (EKG). Following a review of the results, Dr. Ferrara returned to let Dan know he needed to get to the hospital immediately. The rest of the afternoon moved quickly for the couple. Dr. Ferrara had already notified the Renown Regional Medical Center Emergency Room staff, who were on standby for the couple’s arrival. “Gee, this must be serious,” thought Dan, who at the time was experiencing no other alarming symptoms other than the low heart rate indicated on his watch. Several doctors and nurses began their analysis, including a chest x-ray, blood test and additional EKG. Confirming Dr. Ferrara’s results, a Renown cardiologists, Dr. Christopher Rowan and Dr. Shining Sun, joined Dan’s care team. Within two hours of checking into the hospital, Dan was admitted, monitored overnight and prepped for surgery to receive a pacemaker the next day. Tracking Your Heart Health Following the purchase of their Apple Watch devices, Dan and Carol were unaware of these heart health features. Like many others, they were looking forward to the next best tech gadget that would help them stay connected with their friends and family. Now, the couple says they will use their experience to spread the word about the importance of ensuring these settings are enabled. According to Apple, you can turn on these notifications from the Heart Rate app on your Apple Watch (Series 1 or later) to alert you to high or low heart rates and irregular heart rhythms. If you receive a notification, an irregular rhythm suggestive of atrial fibrillation (A-Fib) or a low or high heart rate has been identified and confirmed with multiple readings. In Dan’s case, the signal from his watch was the result of a heart block, a condition where the electrical signal that controls your heartbeat is partially or completely blocked. Dizziness and low heart rate are common symptoms of a heart block. But this was not the first time the couple had experienced this type of alert from their watch. More than a year and half ago, Carol’s watch notified her of an irregular heart rhythm that was suggestive of A-Fib. She immediately made an appointment with Dr. Danish Atwal, the lead cardiologist at Renown’s Helaine Greenberg Women's Heart Center. Thanks to medication prescribed by Dr. Atwal, Carol now lives a healthy, active life while managing her A-Fib, continuing to wear her Apple Watch, which can also help track her A-Fib History. “I’ll share our story with anyone who will listen and encourage them to get a smart watch. I consider myself an unofficial spokesperson,” said Carol with a chuckle. A Thankful Heart The Senior Care Plus members could not be more amazed at the way Dan was treated by the staff at Renown. “I wish I could personally thank them all. I will highly recommend Renown to all I come in contact with,” said Dan with his Apple Watch still proudly strapped to his wrist. “I was closely monitored and treated like royalty.” Quick action to medical emergencies like Dan’s is just one of the many reasons why collaboration is part of our four key values at Renown. The open line of communication between our primary care facilities and hospitals helped Dan get the prompt care he needed, right when he needed it. A month post-op, Dan is doing well and back to enjoying the things he loves during his retirement, including playing the harmonica in the Grumpy Old Man Band, exploring the northern Nevada backroads in his jeep and working on his swing at the golf course. Dan can rest assured that while enjoying the winds of life, if his heart begins to beat too slowly again, the pacemaker will send a signal to correct the beat. “The prompt attention to my heart block undoubtedly saved my life,” said Dan in what he calls his 6-star review of Renown Health. “Thank you from the bottom of my heart, which is happily beating at 60 beats per minute.” This article is not sponsored by or affiliated with Apple, Inc. For more information on the Apple Watch and it's features, visit apple.com.
Tenga un corazón (sano): controle su presión arterial
Do you know your blood pressure numbers? Dr. Michael Bloch explains how maintaining healthy numbers are important for good quality of life and increasing longevity. High blood pressure, or hypertension, affects 85 million Americans – that’s one in three people. Left untreated, it can lead to serious and sometimes life-threatening health concerns such as vision loss, kidney disease, heart failure, heart attack and stroke. But what is it, exactly, what makes it go up and why is that increase in pressure so dangerous? All About Blood Pressure In order to function properly, your body requires a continual supply of oxygen rich blood, which is goes to organs and tissues via blood vessels called arteries. Your beating heart produces the force (or pressure) your vessels require to move blood. This is your blood pressure. Your blood pressure numbers reflect two forces at work – the pressure created as blood is pumped throughout the body (systolic) and the pressure when your heart is at rest in between beats (diastolic). A normal, healthy reading shows a systolic level at 120 or below over a diastolic level of 80 or less: 120/80. An increase in pressure occurs slowly over time, straining the circulatory system and forcing the heart, blood vessels and tissues to work harder. This friction damages blood vessel walls and lets plaque buildup from LDL cholesterol, setting the stage for hardening of the arteries. As more and more plaque builds up, your blood vessels narrow, further raising blood pressure, damaging the circulatory system and increasing your risk of serious health conditions. The Silent Killer High blood pressure is known as a “silent killer,” as most people with it have no symptoms. In fact, one in six of those affected don’t even know they have the condition. That’s why it’s so important to know your numbers. The only way to find out if you have high blood pressure is to have it measured, either by a health professional or using a home monitor. If your numbers are high, there are things you can do to help lower it – it is treatable, but not curable. You can manage it with medications and lifestyle changes including: Adhering to the Mediterranean diet Decreasing sodium intake Avoiding excessive alcohol consumption Increasing exercise and activity levels Losing weight Prevention and Genetics Even better? High blood pressure doesn’t just happen. You can prevent the condition altogether. How? Know your numbers and know your risk. Look at your family medical history. Genetics certainly increases the risk of it, but those same lifestyle choices that can improve poor blood pressure can also prevent you from developing it. So if your numbers are good, keep them that way – eat well, move your body, maintain a healthy weight and drink alcohol in moderation.
Read More About Have a (Healthy) Heart: Maintain Your Blood Pressure