February is American Heart Health Month – a time to show your heart the love and learn how to keep your heart healthy.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to reduce your heart disease risk. Some risk factors, such as family history and age, are out of your hands, but many issues related to lifestyle are within your control.
Mills-Peninsula cardiologist George Cohen, M.D., offers four simple steps to reduce your risk for heart disease. Read More about Four Steps to Reduce Your Heart Disease Risk
If your doctor has diagnosed metabolic or cardio-metabolic syndrome, it means you have three or more medical conditions that raise your risk for heart disease, diabetes, stroke and many other health issues.
These conditions include:
- Large waistline
- High blood sugar or blood pressure
- High level of triglycerides (the fats found in the blood that can cause heart disease)
- Low HDL cholesterol level (this “good” cholesterol helps remove “bad” cholesterol from your arteries; low levels indicate you are at risk for heart disease) Read More about Metabolic Syndrome 101
Recognizing the symptoms of a heart attack can save precious time in a life-threatening situation. Cardiologist Stephen Pope, M.D. says the acronym STOP can help you remember the most important signs of a heart attack:
- S – Shortness of breath
- T – Tightness of the chest, or pressure – feels like an elephant sitting on the chest
- O – Other symptoms such as cold sweats, weakness or fatigue, heart palpitations, dizziness or even loss of consciousness
- P – Pain in the chest, throat, neck, jaw, arms or back
In this video segment of Healthpoint TV, Dr. Pope describes how symptoms differ in men and women and what to do when you see the signs. “If you suspect that you yourself, a friend or family member might be having a heart attack, make sure you call 911.” He also describes the latest life-saving treatments and takes you into the cardiac catheter lab at the Mills-Peninsula Medical Center.
There are many kinds of heart disease, but one stands out as the most common and deadly: coronary artery disease, caused by a hardening of the arteries or atherosclerosis.
In fact, coronary artery disease is the leading cause of death of people over the age of 35 in the industrialized world, according to Robert Zipkin, M.D., Mills-Peninsula interventional cardiologist. “This year alone in America, there will be one million heart attacks,” he says in the below video segment from Healthpoint TV.
Are you at risk for heart disease? Some of the risk factors include:
- kidney disease
- high blood pressure
- elevated cholesterol
- family history of heart disease
In the world of modern medicine, not all heart surgery is the same. Often, what used to take large incisions in the chest to expose and repair the heart, can be done today with tiny openings and miniature tools. But occasionally, it’s best to have all the options available and ready to save a life.
That’s why a new “hybrid” operating suite has been developed, and will soon be added to the high-tech offerings at the Mills-Peninsula Medical Center in Burlingame. “This new $4 million operating suite will allow us to perform a combination of minimally invasive and open surgery in the same room,” says Mills-Peninsula vascular surgeon, Raju Gandhi, M.D.
Traditionally, damaged arteries outside the heart were dealt with using “open” surgery in which a doctor makes an incision to expose the organ and complete the bypass surgery or repair an aneurysm. But technological advances now allow surgeons to perform minimally invasive surgery. By inserting a reed-thin catheter into the groin or leg through tiny punctures, doctors can use advanced X-ray imaging to navigate their instruments through the body to the site of the procedure. When the surgery is over, the tiny incisions allow a much quicker patient recovery.
Best of Both
“With vascular procedures, every now and then you still have to do open surgery to access certain arteries,” explains Dr. Gandhi. “A hybrid room is ideal for this purpose,” he says. “The environment is set up and equipped in such a way that it allows us to continue to perform advanced imaging cases but transition to open surgery if needed without having to move the patient to another operating room.”
The technology is being funded through the Mills-Peninsula Hospital Foundation in partnership with community donors.
One Room, Many Uses
“This room will be used for advanced vascular cases, such as aortic surgery, aortic valve replacements, aneurysm repairs and other cases,” says Mills-Peninsula vascular surgeon, Dirk Baumann, M.D.
Two of the current 10 operating rooms at Mills-Peninsula are already equipped with advanced imaging technology, while the others can be accessed with portable imaging equipment. But in the current advanced imaging operating rooms, either the X-ray machine or the operating table has to move in order to capture images of different parts of the body. In the new hybrid room, a corner-mounted X-ray device will extend on a robotic arm where it can be moved around the patient in myriad positions, then quickly retracted out of the way. This allows the surgical and anesthesia staff to continue working without having to stop and reset the room.
“Setting up and resetting equipment takes time,” says Dr. Baumann. “And for critically ill patients, every moment counts.”
Vascular surgery is often done on older patients who frequently have other serious conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. So the faster and less invasive the procedure, the more successful the outcome. “The problem has always been, we’ll do this big surgery on a 90-year old,” says Dr. Gandhi. “The surgery goes smoothly, but because of the invasion into their body, they do poorly afterwards.
“A hybrid room markedly diminishes the time and invasiveness, so the patients do much better,” he continues. “We’re very excited because this room will be a major step forward in our treatment of vascular disease.”
Despite suffering from heart disease since he was a young boy and undergoing two heart valve surgeries, he has spent his life in the fields. For the last 10 years Rodriguez has owned and run a thriving strawberry farm in Watsonville with his brother Manuel.
Although his life and career are firmly anchored in his success at a job he loves, his serious heart condition – damaged aortic and mitral valves – was always a cloud hanging over him and his family.
Previous valve repair surgery in Mexico, where Rodriguez grew up, was just a temporary fix. As his health started to deteriorate again, Rodriguez saw Neil Sawhney, M.D., interventional cardiologist at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, who evaluated him and told him that he urgently needed surgery. He recommended cardiothoracic surgeon Conrad Vial, M.D., for the procedure.
From the very first time Rodriguez met Dr. Vial, he knew he was in the best hands.
“My wife, Alba, came with me to my first appointment. She was really worried about what would happen to me. She speaks very little English and was afraid she wouldn’t understand what was going on,” says Rodriguez.
“As soon as Dr. Vial realized there was a language barrier, he switched to fluent Spanish and explained everything to her calmly and clearly. My wife almost cried with relief. He just knew how to make us feel comfortable and at ease. I immediately knew what kind of man he was – a good one!” Read More about Advanced Cardiovascular Surgery Keeps Farmer in his Field