By Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal
The heart carries a heavy load. Around the clock, it keeps the superhighway inside our bodies up and running. If it breaks down, the body is starved of oxygen and energy.
More often than we’d like, we need a helping hand to keep the heart pumping. Fortunately, innovative surgical techniques are bringing the best practices in heart medicine to the region, and community programs are offering a path to prevention.
Here are a few heart-focused highlights from around the region:
Through the arm
The best path to your heart may well be through your arm, not your thigh.
Traditionally, minimally invasive heart catheter procedures have used an incision in the thigh – transfemoral – to reach the arteries that serve the heart.
Now cardiologists like Dr. Joe Adams are using arteries in the wrist – transradial – to reach the heart.
Both methods allow cardiologists to find blocked coronary arteries and then use angioplasty to reopen them. Both procedures carry very low risks of vascular complications, but new studies show that the transradial technique has the edge.
“The most significant benefit is the lower rate of vascular complications,” Adams said.
All of the interventional cardiologists at NMMC have done transradial cases. Adams, who trained on the transradial approach during his cardiology fellowship, uses the approach for the vast majority of his cases.
In addition to the reduced complication rate, the RIVAL trial and another Italian study suggested patients with a specific kind of heart attack – ST-segment elevation – may have improved mortality with the radial approach, Adams said. However, a cardiologist needs to be very comfortable with the radial approach to use it during an emergency procedure, because the most important thing is to quickly clear the blocked artery.
Researchers did note the femoral approach is more suitable when large catheters have to be used or prolonged procedure time is expected.
Another benefit is that most transradial patients are able to get up and move around as soon as the sedation wears off; an inflatable wrist band is used to but pressure on the incision site.
For the traditional incision in the thigh, patients have to have direct pressure applied for several hours as they remain lying down in bed.
“Not having to lay on your back is a nice extra benefit,” Adams said.
Getting a clear picture of your cardiovascular health doesn’t require a whole day at the hospital.
Magnolia Regional Medical Center is offering the Vascu-Check program through its Medistat clinic.
“It was started as a screening tool,” said Warren Manning, a registered nurse who serves as the director of cardiology services at Magnolia. The tests are recommended for anyone over 50, especially those with a family or personal history of heart disease, stroke or diabetes.
The Vascu-checks are offered on Wednesdays and Fridays by appointment.
In addition to checking blood pressure, pulse rate and body mass index, the Vascu-Check incorporates four non-invasive tests:
• Ultrasound of the carotid arteries checks the arteries in the neck for signs of narrowing, which increases the risk of stroke.
• Ultrasound of the aorta checks for possible aneurysms, which are a serious condition themselves as well as a potential risk factor for heart attack and stroke.
• EKG monitors the heart’s electrical signals and checks for heart rhythm problems like atrial fibrillation, which increases the risk of stroke.
• ABI takes the blood pressure at your ankles to check for signs of blockage in the peripheral arteries, which significantly increases the risk of heart attack.
The program has established ranges for the tests, and the results are shared with the patient with referral to their primary care physician.
• PSV measures the speed of the blood flowing through the arteries, which can be used to detect blockages, which can raise the risk of heart attack and stroke.
The program has identified at least one patient who the clinic staff walked to the ER so they could see a cardiologist directly, Manning said. That person went straight to the CATH lab for elevation and intervention.
The program costs $100 at the time of screening; patients file directly with their insurance carriers if they have coverage for preventive screenings.
“We can work with those who are unable to pay the entire amount,” Manning said.
The key to a healthy heart is making small decisions every day to choose healthy foods and be physically active.
For the second year in a row, Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi has led a community coalition for the Healthy You, Healthy L.O.U. – Lafayette, Oxford, University – program.
“We are offering the program again this year because it was such a huge success last year,” said Maggie Miller, Baptist Memorial community relations coordinator.
The five-month initiative kicked off in January with programs on jumpstarting a healthy lifestyle and adding exercise to their routine.
“Our goal is, at the end of the program in May, to have participants who can tell a difference in their overall health,” said Maggie Miller with Baptist Memorial.
On Feb. 21, Baptist Memorial is bring Chef Cary Neff, creator of Conscious Cuisine, to Oxford for a heart healthy food demonstration. The chef, who has been featured on the Today Show and Oprah, focuses on making nutritious food exciting and flavorful by incorporating herbs, spices, fruits and vegetables.
“He has a great story about heart health,” Miller said.
The program is free and open to the public. For more information, call (662) 232-8562.
February heart events
• Senior Lunch Bunch will meet at noon Feb. 2 at Baptist Memorial-North Mississippi cafeteria conference room in Oxford. Speaker will discuss Mended Hearts support group. Cost is $3. Call (662) 232-8562.
• National Wear Red Day, Feb. 3, promotes heart disease awareness among women. Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of American women.
• “Go Red” Heart Healthy Ladies’ Luncheon will be at noon at the Powerhouse in Oxford. Sponsored by Baptist Memorial-North Mississippi. Free. Call (662) 232-8562.
• Noon Taste Testing will feature low sodium alternatives at noon Feb. 9 at the NMMC Wellness Center in Tupelo. Free and open to the public. Speaker is registered dietitian Alice Anne Lee. Call (662) 377-4141.
• Cardiac risk screening from 8 to 10:30 a.m. Feb. 15 at NMMC Wellness Center in Tupelo. Open to the public. Call (662) 377-4141.
• “Are You Heart Healthy” educational program will begin at 10:30 a.m. Feb. 15 at the NMMC Wellness Center. Presented by Heart Institute staff. Open to the public.
• NMMC Women in Red Luncheon will be noon Tuesday, Feb. 21. Tupelo’s First Baptist Church. Cardiologist Dr. Barry Bertolet and heart surgeon Dr. David Talton will speak on heart murmurs. Lunch will be provided for $5 for those who pre-register by Feb. 15. To register, call (800) 843-3375.
• Heart Healthy Cooking Demonstration with Chef Cary Neff will begin at 6 p.m. Feb. 21 at the Oxford Conference Center. Part of the Healthy You, Healthy L.O.U. program sponsored by Baptist Memorial-North Mississippi. Free and open to the public. Call (662) 232-8562.
• “Lunch and Learn” program, Hiking for Your Heart & Head, at noon Feb. 22 at the NMMC Wellness Center in Tupelo. Speaker is Andrew Bataille. Free and open to the public. Call (662) 377-4141.
2012 Women’s Health Conference will be held from 8 a.m. to noon Feb. 24 at the Crossroads Arena in Corinth. Free event will include sessions on managing risk factors for cardiovascular disease, post-menopause, diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, sleep apnea presented by physicians. Includes breakfast and giveaways. Hosted by Magnolia Regional Medical Center. Reservations required. Call (662) 293-1200 or visit www.mrhc.org.
• NMMC Heart Institute 30th Anniversary Celebration will be from 4 to 6 p.m. Feb. 28 on the third floor of the NMMC East Tower in Tupelo. Tours, physician honors, commemorative gift and more. Call (800) 843-3375.
• “Does Your Food Affect Your Blood Pressure?” educational session will begin at 10:30 a.m. Feb. 29 at the NMMC Wellness Center in Tupelo. Speaker is registered dietitian Alice Anne Lee.