Heart and Vascular Center
With a team of expert cardiologists, vascular surgeons and support staff, the TRMC Heart and Vascular Center strives to perform on the leading edge of disease prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation. Our philosophy is to create partnerships between our specialists, primary care physicians, hospital staff and most importantly, our patients.
When you think of cardiovascular disease, you might think of coronary artery disease – or narrowing of the arteries that lead to the heart. However, coronary artery disease is just one type of cardiovascular disease treated by our professionals. There are many types of heart disease, such as congestive heart failure or arrhythmia, which can affect the structures or function of the heart. In addition, we also treat your vascular system with expertise in abdominal aortic aneurysms, carotid artery disease, venous disease and others.
The TRMC Heart and Vascular Center’s state-of-the-art facility centralizes a wide range of cardiovascular services in one convenient location. With a one-stop registration and check-in area, you can count on caring, skill-certified cardiovascular professionals utilizing the most up-to-date technology available. Services include diagnostic imaging, stress testing, nuclear medicine, cardiac catheterization, percutaneous coronary intervention (also known as angioplasty), pacemaker insertion, cardiopulmonary rehabilitation, angiography and more.
Heart and Vascular Services
From left to right: Dr. Tim Fuller, Vascular Surgeon with Tift Regional Vascular; Dr. William Hancock, Cardiologist with Tiftarea Cardiology; Dr. Jonathan Tronolone, Cardiologist with Tronolone Cardiology; Dr. Anthony Burke, Cardiologist with Southwell Medical Clinic; and Dr. Bill Kaiser, Vascular Surgeon with Tift Regional Vascular.
Non-Invasive Diagnostic Services
The TRMC Heart and Vascular Center offers non-invasive diagnostic testing, including:
- Electrocardiography (EKG)
- Holter Monitoring
- Cardiac and Vascular Ultrasound
- Stress Testing
Electrocardiography and holter monitoring are utilized to detect abnormal rhythms of the heart. Cardiac ultrasound utilizes sound waves to identify any cardiac irregularity. Along these lines, vascular ultrasound can be utilized to identify blood flow constrictions in the lower extremities. Exercise stress testing is available to monitor the heart’s activity during exercise to reveal blockages or narrowing in vessels of the heart.
Nuclear medicine utilizes a contrast medium, typically given orally or through an intravenous injection, to visualize and diagnose heart disease. The contrast median serves as a radiotracer, emitting radioactive emissions which are detected by a special imaging device that produces pictures and detailed molecular information. A form of exercise stress testing can also be conducted using nuclear medicine.
The TRMC Heart and Vascular Center’s Catheterization Lab utilizes some of the most advanced technology available to provide minimally-invasive diagnostic procedures. Catheterization procedures involve guiding a small, hollow tube called a catheter through a blood vessel up to the heart. Using the catheter and rotating X-ray equipment above the patient, all of the hearts vessels can be seen in action to diagnose any blockage of arteries.
Up until recently, the catheter was inserted through the groin area, but a new “radial” technique allows the catheter to be inserted through the wrist. Although a heart catheterization is an outpatient procedure, patients are required to recover for a few hours afterward. The TRMC Heart and Vascular Center offers a radial lounge which allows patients to recover in a comfortable environment and in a reclining chair rather than a hospital bed.Services
Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI)
Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), also known as angioplasty, is performed in the TRMC Heart and Vascular Center’s Cardiac Catheterization Lab. PCI encompasses a variety of procedures used to treat patients with diseased arteries of the heart, such as chest pain caused by a build-up of fats, cholesterol and other substances from the blood (referred to as plaque) that can reduce blood flow; or, a heart attack caused by a large blood clot that completely blocks the artery.
Typically, PCI is performed by threading a slender balloon-tipped tube (called a catheter) from an artery in the groin to a trouble spot in an artery of the heart. The balloon is then inflated, compressing the plaque and widening the narrowed coronary artery so that blood can flow more easily. This is often accompanied by inserting an expandable, wire-mesh stent that is used to prop open the artery.
For patients suffering the crushing pain of a heart attack, quick access to emergency PCI can help limit heart muscle damage. In some cases, it is a matter of life and death. The goal of the TRMC Heart and Vascular Center, consistent with national standards, is to restore blood flow to the heart muscle within 90 minutes of the emergency patient’s arrival at the hospital. Clinical studies show that patients truly benefit from a “door-to-balloon time” of 90 minutes or less. PCI completed in this emergency circumstance is referred to as “primary” PCI. Other PCI procedures, such as those done to unblock an artery before a heart attack occurs, are referred to as “elective” PCI.
In the past few years, there have been dramatic advances in PCI techniques, devices, and medications. Drug-eluting stents are among the most notable. These stents not only prop open the artery, they also slowly release medication that prevents the overgrowth of scar tissue that can re-narrow the artery and block blood flow to the heart, a complication known as restenosis.that prevents the overgrowth of scar tissue that can re-narrow the artery and block blood flow to the heart, a complication known as restenosis.
Pacemaker insertion is performed in the Heart and Vascular Center’s Catheterization Lab. When a problem develops with the heart’s rhythm, such as a slow rhythm, a pacemaker may be selected for treatment. A pacemaker is a small electronic device composed of three parts: a generator, one or more leads, and an electrode on each lead. A pacemaker signals the heart to beat when the heartbeat is too slow.
With skilled therapists, the TRMC Heart and Vascular Center’s Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation unit monitors and improves the recovery process of patients, increasing their physical fitness and reducing the risk of new coronary and pulmonary events. Therapists and staff also teach individuals about their disease, symptoms and management, and help those with heart disease to improve their coronary risk factors. Available programs help participants stop smoking, lose weight, lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol and reduce emotional stress.
With a fully-digital angiography lab, the TRMC Heart and Vascular Center is able to diagnose and treat patients with vascular disease. Vascular disease refers to the unhealthy changes which occur in our blood vessels as we grow older. The most common disease process is known as atherosclerosis, or the hardening of the arteries, which results in poor blood circulation. Many diabetics, at any age, may also be faced with these problems. Poor circulation to the brain due to blockage or hardening of neck arteries is also one of the leading causes of stroke.
The TRMC Heart and Vascular Center believes that problems in the outlying “peripheral” blood vessels are just as important as problems of the heart arteries. Treatment can include traditional open surgery and endovascular approaches. Some of these surgeries may include removing the plaque from an artery; bypassing the area of obstruction with a graft; and, performing endovascular procedures.
Our unique approach to vascular care is based on our philosophy of saving life and limb through screenings, education and cutting-edge endovascular and open surgical treatments. Our vascular specialists work closely with your primary care physician to ensure that your vascular care is complementary to any existing health-related issues.
Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) Clinic
Located within the Tift Regional Heart and Vascular Center, the CHF Clinic provides specialized care and education for patients diagnosed with congestive heart failure. The goal is to help patients better understand their condition, manage their health, and minimize the need for hospital readmission. Some people have both problems. For a patient to be enrolled in the clinic, a referral must be made by the patient’s physician. The CHF Clinic team works closely with referring doctors to keep them fully apprised of patien progress. Improved quality of-life is the aim. Treatment may include lifestyle changes, medications, surgery or medical devices. For more information or to make a referral, contact the CHF Clinic by calling 229-353-4243.