St. Vincent’s East has a longstanding reputations as a leader in cardiovascular services. By combining the expertise and experience of our physicians with the care and compassion that is uniquely St. Vincent’s, we are your heart and vascular experts.
For a physician referral to one of our St. Vincent’s Heart Experts, call Dial-A-Nurse at 939-7878.
Nationally Recognized Cardiovascular Care
St. Vincent’s East recently received the prestigious Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care (SCPC)’s heart accreditations at the highest level in all three areas of Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) with EPS, Heart Failure, and Chest Pain Center with Primary PCI and Resuscitation. St. Vincent’s is the first and only health system in the nation to receive all three areas at the highest level. The accreditation is based on meeting and exceeding stringent quality and outcome cardiovascular measures on an ongoing basis. To learn more, click here.
In addition, St. Vincent’s East has once again been designated as a Blue Distinction Center+ for Cardiac Care by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama. The prestigious recognition demonstrates St. Vincent’s East’s commitment to quality care, resulting in better overall outcomes for cardiac patients. To qualify, St. Vincent’s East was required to meet or exceed criteria demonstrating its ability to deliver a full range of cardiac care services, producing improved outcomes for patients. Among the criteria measured were inpatient cardiac care, cardiac rehabilitation, cardiac catheterization, and cardiac surgery.
Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)
Peripheral Artery Disease, or PAD, occurs when blood vessels in the legs and feet become narrowed or blocked by a buildup of a fatty substance called plaque. Here are some PAD symptoms:
• Difficulty keeping up with others when walking
• Dull, cramping pain in the hips, thighs, or calf muscles during exercise or at rest
• Changes in skin color or temperature
• Infections or sores that do not heal
• Pain, numbness, tingling, or burning in the legs, toes, or feet
But about 75% of all people with PAD experience no symptoms at all. A screening known as Ankle Brachial Index (ABI) can determine the blood circulation in your legs and feet. This simple test measures the ratio of blood pressure in the ankle to that in the arm to determine your risk of PAD. Ask your doctor if this screening is right for you.
PAD laser therapy is available at St. Vincent’s East Cardiovascular Department, which is a national training center for the treatment of Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD). Physicians from all over the country travel to St. Vincent’s East to learn how to best perform this life-changing procedure.
St. Vincent’s East is the only center in Birmingham using C02 technology instead of contrast to visualize the circulation of the legs. This advanced technology allows our heart and vascular experts to take care of your legs, toes, and feet when allergic to or contraindicated to use contrast.
Credentialed as a Center of Excellence in Excimer Laser Ablation Therapy, the department employs “cool” laser ablation, a minimally invasive procedure that removes blockages. This new technology can restore blood flow to the legs and feet, helping prevent amputation.
Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is an abnormal rhythm in the top chambers of your heart – the atria. Instead of the atria having organized rhythm and motion, it goes so quickly that there is no meaningful contraction. We offer a wide range of treatment options depending on the type of severity of the patient’s AFib. Our highly trained team of physicians treats atrial fibrillation on the St. Vincent’s East campus.
Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is a minimally invasive procedure to repair the heart valve without removing the old, damaged valve. Utilizing the most minimally invasive heart valve available – the Medtronic Core Value ™ Evolut [R] – St. Vincent’s East cardiologists and cardiovascular surgeons are able to access the heart through a small incision in the leg instead of opening up the chest. A catheter is used to travel from the leg to the heart, placing a fully collapsible replacement valve in the heart valve site. Once the new valve opens, it pushes out the old valve leaflets and the tissue in the new replacement begins regulating blood flow.
This procedure is for patients with narrowing of the heart valve opening, who are considered a high risk patient for standard valve replacement surgery, which requires opening the chest. In many cases, these patients aren’t candidates for invasive open heart surgery. As a minimally invasive procedure, TAVR offers patients quicker recovery times and minimizes overall pain and complications.
Surgeons at St. Vincent’s East are continuing to enhance the way heart surgery is performed by implementing the latest in tissue repair technology. Called CorMatrix ECM™ for Pericardial Closure, this technique allows patients to remodel their own cardiovascular tissue following open heart surgery. The CorMatrix ECM™ is sutured onto the opening in the pericardium. It then serves as a scaffold for the patient’s own cells, allowing those cells to infiltrate and ultimately replace and remodel the scaffold, spurring the body’s own natural healing process. This unique tissue repair technology has been performed on more than 1,000 patients at St. Vincent’s East and St. Vincent’s Birmingham since 2007.
Door-to-balloon time is the speed in which a hospital can perform angioplasty or other coronary procedures for a patient having a heart attack. The timer starts when a patient enters the hospital and extends from how fast the Emergency Department diagnoses the heart attack through the physician’s reopening of the blood vessel. One of the reasons St. Vincent’s East is considered your heart expert is that it is a leader in door-to-balloon time. That faster response can help you not only survive, but get back to your “real” life when you have no time to waste.
With the American Heart Association listing heart disease as the number one killer of Americans, St. Vincent’s understands the importance of education on heart disease. As the local “Go Red for Women” sponsor for the American Heart Association, we’re dedicated to sharing heart healthy information with the community and to encouraging early detection through heart screenings. In addition, we participate in numerous community events each year to bring greater awareness to the disease.
Heart-healthy nutrition, physical activity, eliminating tobacco, and following your doctor's recommendations are all part of reducing your risk for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. Key components of heart health are monitoring and controlling cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
Our professionals, from physicians to nurses, physical therapists to dietitians, want to help you get healthy and stay that way. We hope you’ll access our full range of services, from regular physician check-ups to support groups that can help you craft a healthy lifestyle. We even have an online health encyclopedia you can access at any time.
Or, contact our Dial-A-Nurse line, listed below, to learn about smoking cessation, exercise programs and other wellness services, including heart-happy diets.
An important part of St. Vincent’s health care emphasis at this Heart Hospital is our emphasis on nutrition. Click here for a heart-healthy recipe.
Heart Disease in Women
Many people don’t know that heart disease is the leading killer of women. They also don’t know that women often have different heart disease symptoms than men. Rather than the crushing chest pain men typically describe, women may have a sharp, burning sensation in their chest, jaw, neck or back. A woman may credit some heart disease symptoms, like heart palpitations, fatigue or nausea, to hormonal changes.
St. Vincent’s East physicians are trained to consider all possibilities, separating heart disease from other concerns. Women with high blood pressure, diabetes or elevated cholesterol are at a higher risk, as are women with mitral valve prolapse or those taking thyroid medications. A family history of heart disease also increases your chances of heart disease, even if you have none of the other risks.
That’s why it’s so important for women with any of these risk factors to establish a primary care provider in addition to their gynecologist by age 40. Call St. Vincent’s Dial-A-Nurse at 939-7878 to assist you with finding a physician.
Heart and Vascular Services
We don’t mind being the heart expert for our wide range of our cardiovascular services. In addition to the latest technological advances, we continue to offer a full range of diagnosis and treatment options, including:
- Ultrasound Exams
- Non-Invasive Cardiovascular Services
- Cardiac Stress Tests
- 24-Hour Holter Monitoring
- Cardiac Catheterization
- Carotid Stenting
- Coronary (Balloon) Angioplasty
- Coronary Arterial Stenting
- Directional Coronary Arthrectomy
- Electrophysiology Study
- Radio Frequency Ablation
- Permanent Pacemaker
- Automatic Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator
- Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery
- Heart Valve Replacement or Repair Surgery
- Cardiac Rehabilitation
- Peripheral Arterial Intervention with Laser, Atherectomy, Drug-Coated Balloon, and/or Stenting
- Percutaneous Endovascular Abdominal Aortic Aneurysmal Repair
- Chronic Total Occlusion with Hybrid Algorithm Approach
- Patent Formen Ovale (PFO) and Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) Closure
- Laser Lead Extaction and Revision of Leads
- CO2 Peripheral Imaging