Learn to Love Your Heart
Forging a Path to the
University’s Heart & Vascular Institute opens its doors to better cardiovascular health
University Hospital’s new University also is proud to have the
Heart & Vascular Institute is more only vascular lab in Georgia, South
than just a collection of glass, steel, Carolina and North Carolina to re-
bricks and mortar. This world-class ceive accreditation in all five areas
facility has been thoughtfully and of testing from the Intersocietal
masterfully designed around the pa- Commission for the Accreditation of
tient experience. It brings together a Vascular Laboratories.
healing environment, family focused Cardiac patients throughout
care and decades of clinical experi- University Hospital can feel secure
ence – all designed to support pa- that their vital signs are being moni-
tients from diagnosis to rehabilitation tored 24 hours a day, seven days a
– and it’s all under one roof. It is truly week with a housewide monitoring
a reflection of University’s ongoing system housed on a protected fre-
commitment to this community. quency.
From concept to execution, The level of care cardiac patients
University’s staff, physicians, board receive at University Hospital also
members and volunteers have donat- has been honored as a BlueCross
ed their time and efforts to help ensure BlueShield Blue Distinction Center
that University Hospital remains the for Cardiac CareSM.
region’s heart and vascular leader. Blue Distinction Centers for
University has a long history of Cardiac Care have demonstrated
cardiovascular excellence, with their commitment to quality care,
its services being ranked by the resulting in better overall outcomes
National Research Corporation as for cardiac patients. Each facility
most-preferred by area consumers meets stringent clinical criteria, de-
for 10 years in a row. veloped in collaboration with expert
The new facility takes advantage of physician panels and national medi-
that distinction by pulling together all cal societies, including the American
aspects of cardiovascular health – from College of Cardiology and the
the latest technology in all-digital cath- Society of Thoracic Surgeons.
eterization, to the region’s only cardiac University’s new Heart & Vascular
rehabilitation program to receive na- Institute is the largest, most-com-
tional accreditation by the American prehensive facility of its kind in the
Association of Cardiovascular and region, with nearly 200,000 square
Pulmonary Rehabilitation. feet of space, including expansive >
state-of-the-art operating rooms. After years of planning and construc- standing achievements in nursing.
Within its walls, University has tion, the staff, physicians, board Patients in the Heart & Vascular
brought together decades of clinical members and volunteers are proud Institute benefit from the facility’s
experience and even generations of to welcome patients to University’s new model of care, which includes
Heart & Vascular Institute, the re-
physicians. That breadth of knowl- open family visitation as well as
gion’s leader in cardiovascular care.
edge has been recognized by The a high nurse-to-patient ratio. The
Best Doctors in America, which col- Institute’s healing environment
lects up to 1.5 million evaluations an- tence, University’s cardiovascular supplements the technological and
nually to help identify specialists who physicians treat more cardiac patients physician expertise.
are considered by fellow physicians than all other area hospitals combined. After years of planning and con-
to be the most skilled in their fields. And they are supported by a nurs- struction, the staff, physicians, board
Twelve cardiologists who practice at ing staff that has achieved Magnet members and volunteers are proud
University were singled out as among Designation from the American to welcome patients to University’s
the top in their field in 2008. Nurses Credentialing Center, consid- Heart & Vascular Institute, the region’s
When it comes to clinical compe- ered the highest designation for out- leader in cardiovascular care. v
The Universal Patient Room
A new model of care helps bring the family into the healing process
time spent in tHe Hospital can
be frustrating for both heart patients
and their families. There often are
new faces to remember, new rooms
to find, questions and answers that
need to be asked by multiple people
in multiple places.
And if you’re in the cardiac inten-
sive care unit, family involvement is
kept to a minimum.
At least it was.
University Hospital’s Heart &
Vascular Institute has embarked on
a whole new model of care – the
universal patient room – that brings
both technology, and the family, to
In the past, a cardiac patient would
be moved from room to room, care-
giver to caregiver, depending on
what their health status was at any
given time. This created a time-
consuming process of moving the
patient and passing off patient infor-
mation to the next set of caregivers.
The new model of care will keep
the patient in the same room, with
the same set of caregivers, offering
security and stability in what could
be an unsettling situation. there’s less anxiety,” said Lynda “As a patient’s condition intensi-
Another big advantage will be the Jones, director of cardiac and fies and we need to bring in more
total inclusion of family members in telemetry services at University intense technology and more in-
the care-giving process. The Heart & Hospital. “Things evolve around tense care, rather than transfer-
Vascular Institute’s 72 patient rooms the patient rather than patients ring the patient into a critical care
all come equipped with a family area having to move to fit the needs of unit as we have historically done,
and family members will be welcome their caregivers.” we bring the nurses with those skill
24 hours a day, seven days a week to University operated a model unit sets to the bedside without mov-
interact with the patient, their care- for three years in preparation for ing the patient or the family,” she
givers and the physicians. the Institute’s opening, Ms. Jones said. “They’ll be able to do what
“There’s less chance of losing said – time spent preparing for a they need to do to take care of the
items with transfer, there’s less monumental change in procedure patient without the disruption of
handoffs of communication and and attitude. having to move a patient.” v
Getting a Leg Up
Peripheral artery disease can take some out of the action before they know it
if yoU Break down tHe word
“cardiovascular,” a lot of people
know “cardio” means the heart. But
how many people really understand
what “vascular” means when it
comes to their health?
A simple way to remember it is
that cardio is the heart and vascu-
lar is beyond the heart, according
to Brent Edwards, M.D., a cardi-
ologist who practices at University
Vascular disease often includes
a narrowing of vessels that carry
blood to the extremities as well as
to organs such as the stomach or
Often, vascular disease is a “silent”
condition. Many victims don’t even
realize that they are in danger from
This is particularly true of periph-
eral artery disease (PAD), which is a
buildup of plaque that causes a nar-
rowing of the arteries in the legs.
“Classically, a person will get pain
in the calf with walking that goes
away when they stop and rest,” he
said. “This is opposed to arthritis,
which hurts all the time or back pain
or nerve pain in the leg that hurts all
It seems so straightforward; it’s
hard to believe that people wouldn’t
know if they are at risk for the dis-
ease. The problem? According to Dr.
Edward, it’s a matter of movement,
or rather – the lack of movement.
“The reason people don’t com-
plain about leg pain is because, gen-
erally, people don’t walk,” he said.
“And people over 65, half of them
will walk less than six blocks a week.
So many people don’t even walk
enough to develop symptoms even
if they have the disease.”
That’s not to say that everyone What is PAD?
would even know if they’re at risk for
According to Dr. Edwards, only > Peripheral Artery Disease occurs when extra cholesterol and other
about 10 percent of patients have fats circulating in the blood collect in the walls of the arteries that
classic leg-pain symptoms. supply blood to your limbs. This buildup – called plaque – narrows
“So the overwhelming majority your arteries, often reducing or blocking the flow of blood.
either have no symptoms at all, or PAD is most commonly seen in the legs, but also can be present
their legs hurt, but it’s not classic in the arteries that carry blood from your heart to your head, arms,
pain in their calves,” Dr. Edwards kidneys and stomach. Nearly everyone who has PAD – even those
said. Even more chilling, 50 percent who do not have leg symptoms – suffers from an inability to walk
of sufferers have no symptoms at all, as fast, or as far, as they could before PAD.
so the only way to know if they have
the disease is if they get tested.
> Risk Factors
Since PAD is an underdiagnosed Some conditions and habits raise your chance of developing PAD.
and undertreated disease, Dr. Your risk increases if you:
Edwards said most people who have • Are over the age of 50.
the disease don’t realize they’re at • Smoke or used to smoke. Those who smoke or have a history of
a higher risk for heart attacks and smoking have up to four times greater risk of developing PAD.
strokes as well as preventable am- • Have diabetes. One in every three people over the age of 50 with
putations. diabetes is likely to have PAD.
“Even though people might not • Have high blood pressure. Also called hypertension, high blood
complain about symptoms, there is a pressure raises the risk of developing plaque in the arteries.
measureable decrease in their ability • Have high blood cholesterol. Excess cholesterol and fat in your
to walk two years later if you don’t blood contribute to the formation of plaque in the arteries,
identify and treat these people,” reducing or blocking blood flow to your heart, brain or limbs.
he said. “There are just too many • Have a personal history of vascular disease, heart attack or
preventable amputations going on, stroke. If you have heart disease, you have a one in three chance
and when you know that many of of also having PAD.
these amputations could have been • Are African American. African Americans are more than twice as
prevented if years ahead of time you likely to have PAD as their Caucasian counterparts.
identified the disease and treated it,
it would be worthwhile to do it.” Source: National Heart Lung and Blood Institute
Testing for PAD is a quick and
painless two-part process.
There’s a walking test and blood
pressure is measured at the arm heart and their legs.” rest of my life.”
and ankle to determine a patient’s Augusta resident Ann Gojda, 67, Mrs. Gojda works out at University’s
ankle brachial index, which should said she’s become a devoted exer- Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation fa-
be greater than 1. ciser since her surgery for PAD. cility three days a week, using the
“As you get farther away from the “I never knew I had a problem stationary bike, treadmill and walk-
heart, your blood pressure actually before I was diagnosed,” she said ing track to help improve the blood
goes up,” Dr. Edwards said. “If it’s about her surgery at University flow throughout her body.
less than 0.9, they have PAD in their Hospital. “I know now that exercis- “I certainly feel better now,” she
legs or somewhere between their ing is something I have to do for the said emphatically. v
“Even though people might not complain about symptoms, there is a
measureable decrease in their ability to walk two years later if you don’t
identify and treat these people.”
- Brent Edwards, M.D., Cardiologist
it is that makes
Change Your Lifestyle,
Change Your Heart
Stressful lifestyles create more opportunities to stress our hearts
tHe stress tHat we are fac- “The patient gets treated with “But the question that comes out
ing today has not been experienced Heparin in the emergency room, goes is, why does it suddenly happen to
in over a century. Layoffs, vanish- to the catheterization lab the next people on such nand such date?”
ing saving accounts, foreclosures, a day or a few hours later. However, in he said. “Why did this not happen a
spiraling cost-of living and a failing contrast to a traditional heart attack week before? Why does it resolve so
economy are creating an intense there are usually no serious clots or quickly and why does it not happen
level of stress. blockages of the coronary artery to to more people?”
It’s enough to produce chest dis- explain the phenomenon.” he said. One such high-profile case in-
comfort. But how do you know if it’s Dr. Abdulla said the strange heart cluded a 45-year-old Japanese
a heart attack or just stress? events can be precipitated by a autoworker that reportedly died
Stress has long been noted as a number of factors. after working long stressful hours,
possible risk factor for heart disease “It can happen from any calamity; as the lead engineer developing a
and heart attack, but now physicians a mother being informed her daugh- new hybrid vehicle for Toyota. The
are looking at how stress can possi- ter has a serious illness or vice versa,” Japanese labor bureau ruled the se-
bly actually cause a heart attack – or he said. “It has been reported in vere pressure of his job
even just mimic one. gamblers with big gambling debts. It helped contribute to his death.
Over the past few decades, phy- happens after big natural disasters.” So, barring selling all your worldly
sicians have encountered a strange Although it’s being seen more, Dr. possessions and moving to a de-
phenomenon where a patient might Abdulla said physicians are still un- serted island, is there anything you
come to hospital with recognizable sure why it happens, noting that an can do to help relax in these stress-
heart attack symptoms, only to find excess of adrenaline rushing through ful times?
that it was a different condition that the coronary arteries could be one “You really just have to learn to
produced heart damage because possible explanation. It is believed take time for yourself,” said Pam
of causes other than a traditional that chemical substances that are Robertson, a registered respiratory
heart attack. released during stress can provoke therapist with University Hospital’s
Abdulla Abdulla, M.D., a cardi- intense spasm within the artery that Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation.
ologist who practices at University supplies the front of the heart. This “Take a few minutes every hour and
Hospital, said this strange cardiac can temporarily strangle the blood just do what I call a body check –
event, which has been termed Tako- supply to the muscle and produce modulate your breathing, relax as
Tsubo syndrome in Japan, has all the heart damage. When the stress is much as you can.”
hallmarks of a heart attack – chest released, the coronary artery relaxes Ms. Robertson said it doesn’t have
pain, EKG abnormalities, abnormal and blood flow is restored. to be much, but every little bit helps,
blood tests and echocardiographic While many of these cases seem whether it’s taking up running or
and cardiac catheterization findings to resolve themselves, Dr. Abdulla learning to knit.
of poor function involving the apex noted they can be deadly and may “You should find whatever it is that
or tip of the heart. recur in the same patient. makes you relaxed,” she said. v
“(A stress-related heart event) can happen from any calamity; a mother being
informed her daughter has a serious illness or vice versa.”
- Abdulla Abdulla, M.D., Cardiologist
Physicians work to educate patients about stroke’s stealthy nature
Harold mcgrade, m.d., a neu- stroke changed all that for many pa- especially since many of stroke’s risk
rologist who practices at University tients. factors are preventable.
Hospital, said the “silent” part of a TPA had been used in the past for “Don’t smoke, control your choles-
stroke’s calling card comes from the heart attacks, but was found to have terol, control your blood pressure, eat
attack’s ability to strike without a lot clot-busting properties that worked a low-salt, low-fat diet and exercise,”
of fanfare – or pain. to help dissolve clots that blocked he said. “All those things that are
“It’s been a challenge over the arteries to the brain. However, early good for the heart are also good for
years to try and educate patients diagnosis is key since tPA has to be the brain.”
about the symptoms of a stroke. administered within three hours of Above all else, people need to
Sometimes the symptoms of a the stroke’s onset. After that initial keep their blood pressure in check.
stroke can be very straightforward time period, it actually becomes Dr. McGrade called it the “No. 1
and sometimes they can be very dif- more dangerous to use the drug modifiable risk factor for stroke,”
ficult to identify,” Dr. McGrade said. and can lead to an increased risk of and don’t think you don’t have room
“We try to educate them on five or bleeding complications. for improvement just because your
six symptoms they can recognize.” “There are certain restrictions for numbers are average.
According to Dr. McGrade, part (tPA’s) use. For example, a patient “Even if you have a normal blood
of the challenge is due to the fact can’t be on blood thinners,” Dr. pressure, there is still a benefit to
that until the mid-1990s, there really McGrade said, “and they can’t have lowering your blood pressure,” he
weren’t reliable treatments for stroke a bleeding-type stroke.” said.
patients. Dr. McGrade said education and Learning ways to avoid stroke is a
The development of tissue Plasmin- prevention are the best ways to help good place to start, but Dr. McGrade
ogen Activator (tPA) therapy for avoid the devastation of a stroke, stressed the importance of recogniz-
ing stroke symptoms and the race
against time. Brain Attack
“The natural impulse we’re seeing
is that if they think they’re having
a stroke, the patient will first try to > Risk FActoRs FoR A stRoke
contact their physician or someone Stroke prevention is still the best medicine. The most
else before they call 911, thereby important treatable conditions linked to stroke are:
wasting valuable time,” he said. • High blood pressure. Treat it. Eat a balanced diet, maintain
Getting to the hospital as quickly as a healthy weight and exercise to reduce blood pressure.
possible is the best way to try and Prescription drugs also are available.
minimize the effects of stroke, and • cigarette smoking. Quit. Free smoking cessation classes
University Hospital is continually are available. Call 706/774-8900 to register.
working to reduce the time needed • Heart disease. Manage it. Your physician can treat your
to diagnose a stroke. heart disease and may prescribe medication to help
When a suspected stroke patient prevent the formation of clots. If you are older than 50,
enters the hospital, they receive scientists believe you and your physician should make a
a CT scan to verify a diagnosis so decision about aspirin therapy.
treatment can begin. The door-to- • Diabetes. Control it. Treatment can delay complications
CT goal reported by the National that increase the risk of stroke.
Institute of Neurological Disorders • transient ischemic attacks (tiAs). Seek help. TIAs are
and Stroke of the National Institute small strokes that last only for a few minutes or hours.
of Health is 25 minutes. In its con- They should never be ignored and can be treated with
tinuing efforts to provide outstand- medication or surgery.
ing care, University has reduced that
time to an average of 18 minutes.
University’s dedicated Stroke Unit > symPtoms oF A stRoke
includes five beds for acute stroke If you see or have one or more of these symptoms, don’t
patients, and a nursing staff specifi- wait, call 911 right away!
cally trained to attend to the patient’s • Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg,
neurological needs. A specialized especially on one side of the body.
team, including a neurologist, nurse, • Sudden confusion or trouble speaking or understanding
dietitian, pharmacist, care manager speech.
and rehabilitation therapists, visits • Sudden trouble seeing out of one or both eyes.
each patient in the unit during daily • Sudden dizziness or loss of balance or coordination
interdisciplinary rounds. Together, • Sudden severe headache with no known cause.
the team reviews each patient’s
medical history and develops a plan Treatment can be more effective if given quickly. Remember
of care designed to ensure the best that every minute counts!
possible outcome. v
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
For information, call University’s
Heart Line at 706.828.2828 or toll
free at 866.601.2828.
“Don’t smoke, control your cholesterol, control your blood pressure, eat a low-salt,
low-fat diet and exercise. All those things that are good for the heart are also good
for the brain.”
- Harold McGrade, M.D., Neurologist
Cardiovascular disease is a major risk
for those diagnosed with diabetes
diaBetes, wHicH affects nearly Diabetes Education Program has cre-
24 million Americans, could be con- ated a campaign designed to spot-
sidered a gateway disease. Those light the need to control your “ABCs”
who have diabetes are more likely to of diabetes – A1C (blood glucose),
have kidney disease, dental disease, blood pressure and cholesterol.
amputations, blindness and nerve Keeping these three numbers
damage. Even more troubling is the under control can help reduce much
high rate of cardiovascular disease of the risk of developing cardiovas-
and high blood pressure in people cular disease.
with diabetes. But the fact is, a majority of dia-
Ian Herskowitz, M.D., an endocri- betes sufferers do not feel they are
nologist who practices at University at risk for cardiovascular disease,
Hospital, said he’s seen an increase despite overwhelming research that
in the number of diabetes cases proves differently.
since he started practice. That falls According to the American
in line with a recent report by the Diabetes Association, 68 percent of
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and diabetes patients surveyed said they
Prevention, which noted that the did not consider cardiovascular dis-
number of Type 2 diabetes cases ease to be a serious complication of
has doubled in the past decade. diabetes, and 60 percent said they
In the food-loving South, the num- weren’t at risk for high blood pres- Herskowitz said. “They have to come
bers are even more alarming, with sure or cholesterol problems. to the realization of what they’re
more new cases being diagnosed here University Hospital’s Diabetes dealing with and it’s up to them to
than anywhere else in the country. Services works every day with pa- be in control of it.
The cardiovascular risk associated tients and in the community to try “If they do not recognize the se-
with diabetes is especially great for and turn those numbers around. riousness of the condition, they will
those with diabetes, Dr. Herskowitz Through education, screenings and not be able to manage their diabetes
said, because of the inflammatory medical supervision, people are successfully.” v
effect glucose has on blood vessels. learning ways to change their life-
“It can contribute to vascular dis- styles in order to help their hearts.
ease and increase the risk of lipid “A lot of times, people are in denial for more information about
plaques, which cause blockages to of their disease, and that’s one of diabetes, call University Hospital’s
build up,” he said. the things we have to address,” Dr. diabetes services at 706/868-3241.
“It’s like a premature aging of the
“That process is aggravated when “It can contribute to vascular disease and increase the
glucose is not kept under control.” risk of lipid plaques, which cause blockages to build
To help raise awareness of the up. It’s like a premature aging of the blood vessels.”
correlation between diabetes and
cardiovascular disease, the National - Ian Herskowitz, M.D., Endocrinologist
It’s About Time
Calling 911 a vital step for those who suspect a heart attack
a metapHorical stopwatcH
begins whenever someone has a
“Time is of the essence. In cardiology, we say
heart attack. There’s a race to save
a life, but there’s also a race to save
that ‘Time is muscle.’”
a heart. - John Salazar, M.D., Cardiologist
“Time is of the essence,” said John
Salazar, M.D., a cardiologist who prac-
tices at University Hospital. “In cardi- cardiogram, can be transmitted tion from the time they arrive at the
ology, we say that ‘Time is muscle.’” by EMTs to University, giving the hospital, is continually monitored to
Heart muscle is damaged during a hospital’s cardiac team information be under 90 minutes, but by calling
heart attack, so the sooner a patient about the patient’s condition. 911, heart attack patients give them-
makes it to University Hospital, the “If you see a heart attack on that selves an added edge to ensure they
quicker they can be treated and the EKG, then the people in the ER al- receive the best possible treatment
less heart muscle they will lose. ready know what’s going on by the once they arrive at the hospital.
That’s why it’s critical to under- time you get there, and, depending And don’t think that having a
stand the importance of calling 911 on whether the EKG shows a heart “false alarm” is anything to be em-
if you think you’re having a heart attack, the way we approach the pa- barrassed about.
attack, because an ambulance tient is affected,” Dr. Salazar said. “In my perspective,” Dr. Salazar
isn’t just a transportation system. All of this coordination is designed said, “I’d much rather be called for
Emergency medical technicians to give a heart attack patient the cor- a false alarm than have someone
also have a number of treatments rect treatment in the least amount show up two to three days after
and tests they can perform before a of time. a heart attack or even six to eight
heart attack patient even makes it to University’s door-to-balloon time, hours after a heart attack when
the hospital. essentially the time it takes for a pa- there’s less we can do to salvage
One such test, a 12-lead electro- tient to undergo cardiac catheteriza- the heart.” v
Snoring is a more serious problem than most realize
if yoU snore nigHtly, yoU’re as if you are under assault,” he said.
probably doing more than just an- “During the nighttime, our adren-
noying your spouse. You also could aline-type of hormones should be
be endangering your health. going down; we should be relaxed.
Snoring often is a sign of sleep But if you are stopping breathing,
apnea, when a person has repeated those hormones will go up. If it
bouts of reduced breathing or com- happens one time, that is fine, but
pletely stops breathing while sleep- when it happens 400 times…”
ing. While it would seem obvious that Dr. Chaudhary said he has seen
this would disturb your sleep and people during sleep studies that stop
make you extremely tired during the breathing more than 100 times an
day, sleep apnea also is becoming hour – about 1-2 times per minute –
recognized as a cardiovascular risk. creating a dangerous situation for
“Sleep apnea is a fairly common the sleeper.
disease,” said Bashir Chaudhary, The continuous rise and fall of
M.D., a sleep medicine specialist hormones keeps a person’s blood ping smoking, losing weight and
who practices at University Hospital, pressure from returning to normal using an air-pressurized mask to as-
noting that about 16 percent of the as the body’s defense system reacts sist breathing during the night.
adult American population suffers unnecessarily. Dr. Chaudhary said his patients
from the disorder. But not everyone “So what does it do to the blood have been amazed how they feel
even knows they have a problem. Dr. pressure? It’s going to increase be- after they start treatments for sleep
Chaudhary noted that only a small cause the body wants action,” Dr. apnea, saying most had no idea just
percentage of sufferers know they Chaudhary said. “That’s one of the how bad they really felt.
have the condition. reasons that heart-related prob- “They sleep better during the night,
“If snoring does not bother your lems are going to be more common and when they wake up in the morn-
spouse, you may not know you because those hormone levels are ing they will be rested – this is the
have a problem,” he said. “Also, we going to be high. immediate effect,” he said. “But the
used to think everybody with sleep “If you look at those people who major benefit over the long period is
apnea is sleepy. Now we know have severe hypertension that is incidents of high blood pressure are
about half of the people who have difficult to control, about 70 to 80 going down, incidents of heart at-
sleep apnea are not sleepy during percent of them have sleep apnea.” tacks are going down and incidents
the day. They just don’t know.” Sleep studies conducted in Dr. of stroke are going down.” v
This is problematic because ac- Chaudhary’s office and at University
cording to a recent study, people Hospital’s Sleep Center can help
with even minimal obstructive those who think they might have for more information about sleep
sleep apnea can be at an increased sleep apnea by diagnosing the apnea, call University’s ask-a-
risk of cardiovascular disease. problem and developing a plan of nUrse at 706/737-8423 or toll
About one third of those with treatment, which can include stop- free at 800/476-7378.
hypertension – one of the leading
causes of heart disease – also have
sleep apnea. Dr. Chaudhary said the
reason is a vicious cycle that is cre- “Now we know about half of the people who
ated throughout the night for those have sleep apnea are not sleepy during the day.
with sleep apnea. They just don’t know.”
“When we stop breathing, the
body wakes up; all of a sudden it is
- Bashir Chaudhary, M.D., Sleep Medicine Specialist
As Serious as a Heart Attack
Know the signs and symptoms
pHysicians want people to
know the most common symptoms “Fatigue is sometimes a very unrecognized symptom of
of heart attack. They and organiza- heart disease and it may persist for months before people
tions such as the American Heart even begin to consider the possibility of a heart problem.”
Association have spent decades
- Stephen Broadwater, M.D., Interventional Cardiologist
going over it again and again in the
hopes that it sinks in. But sometimes,
even potential heart trouble can creep to join her husband for the screening Mrs. Burckhalter’s actions might
up without you ever knowing it. with University’s 64-slice CT scanner, have helped save her life before she
Denise Burckhalter, of North which can be used to find early stage ever had any symptoms of heart
Augusta, is a living testament to heart disease by looking at the amount disease, but others might not be so
the technology used every day at of calcium in plaque that might be on lucky to get advance warning.
University Hospital to help diagnose the walls of the heart’s arteries. Stephen Broadwater, M.D., an inter-
cardiac problems. During the test, Mr. Burckhalter ventional cardiologist who practices
Mrs. Burckhalter’s story began in found he had small amounts of calci- at University Hospital, said there are
the spring of 2008. Her husband fication that are common for his age. still some very standard heart attack
Charles had recently turned 60, and Mrs. Burckhalter, on the other signs that everyone should know.
the couple asked their family physi- hand, got the shock of her life. Chest discomfort is common and
cian if Charles should make an ap- “I have to say, before I went in, I can include pain in the shoulder,
pointment with a cardiologist – just had no problems,” she said with a neck and jaw, as well as shortness of
to make sure everything was OK. laugh. “I felt great.” That is, until she breath.
“Dr. (David) Parler suggested that got the results, which said her cal- But don’t think that all heart at-
my husband go to University Hospital cium score was 1,100. “You want to tacks are the same and that every-
to get a CT (computed tomography) have 0, and 400 is considered to be one has the same symptoms.
scan for a calcium score,” she said. “Dr. pretty bad,” she said. Dr. Broadwater noted that many
Parler said we’d take it from there.” A battery of tests were performed people, especially women, have atypi-
On the spur of the moment, the and soon after, Mrs. Burckhalter had cal symptoms that include everything
58-year-old Mrs. Burckhalter decided surgery and five bypasses. from nausea, vomiting and sweating
to upper back pain or discomfort and
an overwhelming sense of doom.
Heart Attack symptoms “Fatigue is sometimes a very unrec-
ognized symptom of heart disease,”
he said, “and it may persist for months
> it is vital that everyone knows and understands the major symptoms before people even begin to consider
of a heart attack and to call 911 if you suspect that you or anyone else the possibility of a heart problem.”
is having a heart attack. Mrs. Burckhalter is well on the
• Chest pain or discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort road to recovery, and a devoted
in the center of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes, cheerleader for CT scanning.
or goes away and comes back. The pain or discomfort can feel like “We have sent at least a dozen
uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain. people to get the test,” she said,
• Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Can include pain or laughing. “My husband grabbed a
discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach. handful of test brochures and we
• Shortness of breath. Often comes along with chest discomfort. But pass them out whenever we can.” v
it also can occur before chest discomfort.
• Other symptoms. May include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea
or light-headedness. Women also can have other atypical symptoms, For information, call University’s
particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain. Heart Line at 706.828.2828 or toll
free at 866.601.2828.
Source: National Heart Lung and Blood Institute
Introducing the H e a r t & Va s c u l a r I n s t I t u t e .
Now more than ever, leading the region in heart care.
University Hospital’s heart care has been recognized as most preferred in the region for
decades, and with good reason. Generations of cardiologists and surgeons practice at
University, continuing a tradition of clinical quality established by the very first cardiologists
in Georgia. These experts care for more patients than all other area hospitals combined. Now,
these talented men and women have a new home - the Heart & Vascular Institute. The only
facility of its kind in the region, this amazing facility offers a full spectrum of diagnosis,
medical and surgical treatment as well as the area’s most sophisticated Cardiopulmonary
Rehab Center. It’s much more than a state-of-the-art building. It’s the future of health care.
For additional information, call University’s Heart Line
at 706.828.2828 or 866.601.2828.
w w w. u n i v e r s i t y h e a l t h . o r g / h e a r t