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We're Helping Hearts Here, There and Everywhere

Here's a look at just a few of the outstanding cardiology programs throughout St. Joseph Health.

You depend on your heart to keep a steady beat. But sometimes hearts need help. That’s why St. Joseph Health excels in cardiology services across its hospitals. Let’s look at just a few of the outstanding programs throughout our health system. Note that some of the services listed may be available at more than one location, so consult the contact information below to discover all the heart programs available at a hospital near you.

We’ve all seen ER teams rush to help a patient on television. But for heroes saving hearts in real life, look to experts like the ER team at St. Mary in Apple Valley. The hospital is designated as an ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI) Receiving Center by San Bernardino County and the Inland Counties Emergency Medical Agency. STEMI stands for ST-elevation myocardial infarction, a common form of heart attack wherein cardiac muscles are damaged and blood flow is interrupted. Studies show that for best results, patients must receive treatment in 90 minutes or less and STEMI centers are expert in quickly providing the necessary treatment. For some, getting to a STEMI center like St. Mary’s saves lives.

For other patients, heart problems don’t happen quite as suddenly, but can be just as concerning. At the Mission Hospital Heart Failure Program, teams used evidence-based care to treat a condition that sometimes begins with swelling of the ankles or simple fatigue. The problem, however, is that with heart failure, the heart is losing its ability to pump blood and maintain the needs of the body. Recognizing symptoms of heart failure is the first step in managing and treating the condition, and early diagnosis can often reverse or even stop further problems. That’s why the team at Mission Hospital works to raise awareness of heart failure, as well as provide expert diagnosis so treatment can begin sooner.

Atrial fibrillation (“A-Fib”), or irregular heartbeat, is another problem that worsens if undiagnosed, eventually putting patients at risk of blood clots which can lead to stroke. Patients with A-Fib often report feeling a thumping or fluttering sensation in their heart during light or moderate activity as well as chest pain or pressure and shortness of breath. Other symptoms include fatigue, rapid heartbeat, dizziness, faintness, weakness, sweating and exhaustion during exercise. Some patients experience no symptoms at all. Electrophysiology studies at St. Joseph Hospital, Eureka help doctors diagnose the problem, which can be treated with medications or advanced treatments like radiofrequency ablation, which sends a burst of radiofrequency energy to the affected area when medications aren’t the answer. Mission Hospital offers Stereotaxis, a remote magnetic navigation system which the physician uses to safely guide a catheter to diseased cardiac tissue for treatment of abnormal heartbeats. And Mission Hospital was the first hospital in California to offer the convergent procedure for A-Fib, in which two doctors combine their expertise by performing ablation both inside and outside of the heart to check and eliminate A-Fib triggers.

And when hearts need the help of a pacemaker, how about the latest model that’s no bigger than a large vitamin? Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital is the first hospital on the West Coast to offer the world’s smallest pacemaker. Available for patients who have post-clinical trial bradycardia (slow or irregular heart rhythm) the Micra® Transcatheter Pacing System (TPS) is implanted via a catheter. This mini-miracle is providing a safe alternative to conventional pacemakers without the complications associated with leads – all while being cosmetically invisible.

When heart surgery is needed, but not an option due to illness or advanced age for patients with aortic stenosis, St. Joseph Hospital, Orange and Covenant Health’s Heart & Vascular Institute are offering a life-saving answer. Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is a minimally-invasive procedure that repairs the aortic valve without the need for an open heart procedure. TAVR is an image-guided procedure that works by inserting a new valve through a catheter into the femoral artery toward the heart. Once the new valve is in place, it’s inflated, and it pushes the old valve aside and begins working immediately. Patients enjoy less time in the hospital and typically regain a better quality of life. And for many, it’s the heart repair they never thought they could receive.

Of course, the best defense against heart disease is to change lifestyle habits that lead to cardiac problems and other health concerns. St. Jude Medical Center is one of only two hospitals in the western United States to offer Ornish Lifestyle Medicine™, rated the #1 Best Heart Health Diet by U.S. News & World Report. The program is proven to “undo” or reverse the progression of heart disease through simple but powerful lifestyle changes. Participants in the St. Jude program are typically former heart patients. Sessions focus on intensive lifestyle intervention aimed at dramatically improving heart health through monitored exercise, personalized nutrition (vegetarian, low-fat meals), stress management (restorative yoga and meditation), and a support group.

For more information on these and other programs, in Northern California call (877) 449-DOCS or visit stjosephhealth.org; in Southern California call (877) 459-DOCS or visit stjosephhoaghealth.org; and in Texas call (866) 426-8362 or visit covenanthealth.org. To enroll or hear more about the Ornish program, call (714) 992-3000 ext. 3789 or email cardiopulmonaryrehab@stjoe.org. Physician referral is required.

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