Sometimes you can take your time in deciding where to go for heart care—for example, when you’re seeking a permanent solution for persistent heart palpitations. Other times, you can’t—for instance, when you or a loved one is experiencing a heart attack or sudden cardiac arrest.
But no matter what kind of cardiovascular care you need—emergency rescue, a planned procedure or long-term support—Lutheran Medical Center is here for you.
Exceeding National Standards for Emergency Treatment
As an accredited Chest Pain Center, Lutheran meets the highest national standards for evaluating chest pain and treating heart attacks, with a 24/7 cardiac care team and four cardiac catheterization labs for opening blocked blood vessels.
“Our average ‘door-to-treatment’ time is 50 minutes, significantly better than the 90-minute national guideline,” says Deborah Johnson Sasso, RN, BSN, Director of the Heart Center at Lutheran. “We also offer a full open-heart program, which includes procedures like coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery, which replaces a portion of the blocked artery with a healthy blood vessel from elsewhere in the body.
“Having a full range of advanced diagnostic equipment and treatment capabilities allows us to care for patients with complex cardiac issues or those who have multiple medical problems,” she adds.
Advanced Care for Rhythm, Valve and Vascular Disorders
Lutheran electrophysiologists, who are specialists in heart rhythm disorders, are now teaming with cardiac surgeons to offer the convergent procedure for atrial fibrillation (Afib), the most common type of heart rhythm disorder.
“The convergent procedure is a hybrid surgical and catheter ablation that targets tissue on both the inside and outside of the heart that is producing abnormal signals,” says Bohuslav Finta, MD, an electrophysiologist at Lutheran. “Destroying these areas with precisely applied radiofrequency energy blocks those signals and can help patients with particularly long-lasting or hard-to-treat Afib reduce or eliminate their dependence on blood-thinning and anti-arrhythmia medications.”
Electrophysiologists can treat other types of heart rhythm disorders with implantable devices, such as pacemakers. And Lutheran is one of the few hospitals in the region that offers lead extraction surgery, which is required when pacemaker wires need to be replaced due to infection.
Lutheran’s cardiac surgeons, including Allan Brants, MD, perform numerous procedures to repair and replace damaged heart valves. “When possible, we use minimally invasive techniques that involve shorter recovery times than traditional open-heart surgery,” he says.
The surgical team also includes interventional cardiologists who specialize in minimally invasive procedures to treat blocked vessels in the legs, neck and other areas of the body.
Restoring Health After a Cardiac Event
For patients who have had a heart attack or major heart surgery, cardiac rehabilitation starts at the bedside. Trained cardiac nurses and rehabilitation specialists work with patients to help heal, educate and support.
Lutheran’s cardiac rehabilitation program typically lasts four to 12 weeks, with three sessions a week of monitored exercise, medication management, nutrition counseling and education to help patients and their families adopt and follow through on lifestyle changes.
After Heart Stents and Cardiac Rehab, a New Life
One day in mid-April this year, Jerry Frangas had his wife take him to the Emergency Department at Lutheran Medical Center because of pain in his chest. To his surprise, he was actually having a heart attack. After having two stents placed in his coronary arteries by Jeffrey Rubinstein, MD, with SCL Health Heart & Vascular Institute-Wheat Ridge, and a few days in the hospital, he went home and soon began a cardiac rehabilitation program.
As far as Jerry is concerned, the care and support he received at Lutheran has added at least another 10 years to his life expectancy.
“They provided me with excellent education and encouragement,” Jerry says. “The cardiac rehab staff gave me constant feedback and checked in with me regularly. They have genuine empathy and really do care about the people they are helping. I’m especially grateful to Kelly [Royster], Chris [DeMay], Kristi [Brewer] and Scott [Aardema].”
Thanks to his own efforts along with the guidance he received, the 52-year-old former state legislator with a background in social work has made great strides in better managing his nutrition, exercise and life stress.
“The classes were phenomenal,” Jerry says. “I’ve lost 6½ inches from my waist size and improved my strength 400 percent!” He says he now has a good road map for staying on track with diet, exercise and avoiding stress—something to which others might want to pay attention.
“It’s critical to take stress seriously and do something about it. It will kill you if it can,” he adds. “Find good doctors and healthcare professionals, like the ones at Lutheran, and listen to them. Follow up on what you should and be aware of what you need to do to live a long and healthy life.”