I hope the title of this week’s column is thought-provoking. Yes, we all have an actual heart, but caring for that heart is another matter entirely—especially as we get older, and the risk of heart disease rises exponentially.
Heart care at Physicians Regional Healthcare System focuses on the functions and disorders of the heart and its connected circulatory system. According to the American Heart Association, 84 million people in the U.S. suffer from some form of cardiovascular disease, affecting blood flow throughout the body. Cardiovascular disease can lead to heart attacks, strokes or other serious complications.
Taking good care of your heart can help reduce your risk of developing heart disease that leads to a heart attack, stroke or other serious complications. Our cardiac care teams provide complete heart care services—from helping you create a heart-healthy lifestyle (including appropriate diet and exercise) to performing lifesaving procedures in emergency situations.
Both Physicians Regional hospitals are Accredited Chest Pain Centers. Our Pine Ridge hospital has received full Chest Pain Center with Primary PCI Accreditation, and our Collier Boulevard hospital has received full Chest Pain Center Accreditation from the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care (SCPC).
An Accredited Chest Pain Center’s (CPC) evidence-based, protocol-driven and systematic approach to cardiac patient care allows clinicians to reduce time to treatment during the critical early stages of a heart attack. Accredited facilities better monitor patients when it is not initially clear whether or not a patient is having a coronary event. Such monitoring ensures patients are neither sent home too early nor needlessly admitted.
Due to the importance we place on cardiac health, Physicians Regional – Collier Boulevard recently opened a Cath Lab. A catheterization laboratory or “cath lab” is an examination room with specialized diagnostic imaging equipment used to visualize the arteries of the heart and the chambers of the heart and treat any stenosis or abnormality found.
The vascular system, also known as the circulatory system, is composed of the vessels that carry blood and lymph throughout the body.
Dr. Mouhannad Dalao has been a part of the Physicians Regional family for over 10 years. He received his medical education at Damascus University followed by fellowships at Albany Medical Center and Yale University School of Medicine.
For Dr. Dalao, the appeal of a career in cardiology was very personal: “I had two grandmothers, each of whom died at a young age from heart disease. I thought I could make a difference,” he says. “I also love physics and the heart is a very complex machine representing physics, chemistry and math.”
If you have pushed past the mid century mark in age—or present elevated risk factors for heart disease—you should take heart health more seriously. For one, your primary care physician should be performing routine blood tests—the results of which could shed light on your cardiac future. Additionally, if you exhibit multiple red flags— such as a family history of heart disease and/or not being diligent with diet and exercise—you should have your profile reviewed to determine your risk for a future cardiac event.
You should also explore the benefits of an exercise stress test—also known as an exercise electrocardiogram, treadmill test, graded exercise test, or stress EKG.
In layman’s terms, a stress test tells your cardiologist how your heart responds to being pushed. Your electrocardiogram, heart rate and blood pressure are also tracked throughout this procedure.
And if a form of heart disease is detected? “Most important, the patient needs to understand the disease process,” explains Dr. Dalao. “From my experience, once they do, they are extremely engaged. If not, they are not always compliant. My initial visit is focused on educating my patients about the disease and what is going to happen next.”
Perhaps the best way to “have a heart” is best demonstrated in your advocacy on behalf of the heart health of a loved one or close friend. We can all use an “extra pair of eyes” when it comes to health care. Notice something that doesn’t seem right? Speak up! You may ultimately save the life of a dear friend.
When asked what he liked best about practicing medicine in Southwest Florida, Dr. Dalao commented, “The patients are sophisticated and very involved in their care—they demand quality care.”
However, from my experience, they also have a lot of heart.
For more information, visit Physicians Regional.com.