February is National Heart Disease Awareness Month and it is the perfect time for you to make sure you are following a heart-healthy lifestyle.
You have the power to prevent or reduce your risk of heart disease by following five important steps – stop smoking, exercise regularly, eat a well-balanced diet, maintain a healthy weight and see your doctor for regular check-ups.
If you suffer from heart disease or have a family history of it, Jackson Health System provides a full range of cardiac care, including education, the latest diagnostic testing and treatments, including angioplasty and open heart surgery, advanced heart failure treatment and heart transplant, as well as a cardiac rehabilitation program.
Jackson physicians, along with our academic affiliates at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, are nationally recognized as leaders in preventative, diagnostic and interventional cardiology. We specialize in treating patients with a range of diagnoses and risk factors. And we often do it without open-heart surgery.
Jackson is one of only a few medical centers in the nation offering percutaneous aortic valve replacement. This cutting-edge procedure is done by implanting the valve using a catheter threaded through the patient’s femoral artery in the leg. Done under local anesthesia, the surgery is minimally invasive – a sharp contrast from open-heart surgery.
Many of our patients suffer from severe aortic stenosis, a condition in which the aortic valve cannot open completely and then prevents normal blood flow from the heart to the rest of the body.
Approximately one-third of patients who need a new heart valve in the U.S. do not receive it because they are at high risk for open heart surgery. As people age, the risks associated with open heart surgery also increase, which is why it is important to find a new and less invasive way of repairing the aortic valve.
Miami resident Isadore Bernstein, 93, struggled for years with shortness of breath, little energy and uncomfortable, unexplained pressure in his chest. Walking just a few steps was a challenge. Yet, doctors told Bernstein he was not a candidate for open-heart surgery because it was too risky in his frail condition.
In December, Bernstein had the minimally invasive percutaneous aortic valve replacement at Jackson Memorial Hospital. The valve replacement procedure was performed by making a small incision in the groin without the need for open-heart surgery. Almost immediately he noticed an improvement.
“I can breathe again,” he said. “It was life changing.”
Jackson cardiologists also specialize in the treatment of heart failure, a common complication for patients who have had high blood pressure for many years or suffered from heart attacks. Therapy and medications can often improve heart function and, at times, pacemakers or defibrillators are needed to regulate the heart rhythm.
In the most extreme cases of heart failure, a transplant is often the only option.
The Miami Transplant Institute at UM/Jackson has the best outcomes in the nation for heart transplants. Our doctors are skilled in implanting left ventricular assist devices (LVAD), which are mechanical hearts that take on the entire function of the heart until an organ for transplantation becomes available.
From preventative cardiac care to minimally invasive surgery to more complex issues relating to heart failure, Jackson physicians are committed to ensuring that you are heart healthy.
For more information on heart disease, visit the American Heart Association Web site at <www.heart.org>. To learn more about Jackson’s cardiac services, visit the Jackson Health System website at <www.jhsmiami.org>. To make an appointment, call 786-466-8490.
Dr. Alexandre Ferreira is the clinical chief of cardiology for Jackson Health System and a volunteer associate professor of medicine for the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.