Treating — and helping people to avoid — cardiovascular disease remains a crucial focus and commitment for the care team at UHS.
Fifty-seven years after its founding, National American Heart Month is as relevant now as ever. Heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death in the United States, with one person dying every 37 seconds. Nearly half of all Americans report having at least one of the three key risk factors — high blood pressure, high cholesterol or smoking.
"As a leading healthcare provider, we are committed to providing our patients with the highest-quality, patient-centered cardiovascular care," said Paul Stefanacci, MD, FACS, MBA, Chief Medical Officer for UHS. "This is accomplished through consistent utilization of evidence-based cardiovascular treatment guidelines as a key component of a comprehensive system of care to fully address our patients' needs. These systems of care drive efficiencies in time-critical procedures and protocols to deliver high-quality outcomes."
Making a difference
Whether through new equipment or advanced procedures, or simply the attentive care of a talented doctor, UHS continues to make a difference in the fight against heart disease. Those impacted include:
Richard McNaughton, 81, who was living in Phoenix, Arizona, when doctors discovered a significant blockage in a coronary artery and deemed it too difficult and risky to place a stent. They told him there was nothing more they could do. His daughter brought him to live with her in Reno, Nevada. When crushing chest pain brought McNaughton to Northern Nevada Medical Center, the team there used advanced techniques and equipment to remove plaque and safely place a stent. He went home a day later.
Mary Gentry, 78, noticed she was suffering from shortness of breath while making her bed and walking to the mailbox. She eventually was diagnosed with a damaged aortic valve, and treated at Texoma Medical Center using a minimally invasive procedure called transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR). "This is the direction that cardiac care is moving — doing bigger things less invasively, and with a quicker recovery," says Dr. Scott Turner, a cardiologist at Texoma. "Right now, we are the only facility doing TAVR between Dallas and Oklahoma City, and we are excited to be able to provide this minimally invasive option to patients who meet the criteria for it."
Marybel Coleman was an active, 40-something lawyer with no risk factors when she felt a twinge of pain in her chest around the Christmas holidays. She wrote it off as indigestion. Luckily, she had a checkup scheduled and an EKG showed she had a blockage of her left anterior descending artery, the proverbial "widowmaker." The next day she went to the catheterization lab at Wellington Regional Medical Center and had a stent placed to open the artery.
A full calendar
These are just a small sample of the lifesaving stories happening in UHS hospitals every day. Beyond these medical interventions, UHS hospitals across the country are hosting events and screenings throughout the month, including:
- Centennial Hills Hospital is hosting its Annual Heart Health Event on February 19 to provide free cholesterol and glucose screenings, blood pressure checks and CPR demonstrations.
- Doctors Hospital of Laredo hosts its Annual Healthy Heart Awareness Day on February 13, which will feature health education and free health screenings to include height/weight/BMI measurements, blood pressure screenings, fasting glucose and Hemoglobin A1c screenings, and cholesterol screenings.
- Northwest Texas Healthcare System will host a Heart Health Fair on February 13.
- Several UHS hospitals also hold regular support group meetings throughout the year to help cardiac patients cope with their diagnosis and live a healthier lifestyle.