Heart & Vascular Care

If you suffer from a heart attack, heart disease, stroke or other condition that affects the circulatory system, you need lifesaving treatment right away.

The heart and vascular specialists at Indiana University Health provide comprehensive diagnosis and treatment for all conditions affecting the heart and vascular system, including atherosclerosis (a buildup in the arteries), coronary artery disease, peripheral arterial disease and more. Our partnership with the Indiana University School of Medicine includes access to the latest research, which translates to better outcomes for our patients.

At Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital, our team of multidisciplinary specialists, including cardiologists, cardiac surgeons and clinical specialists, collaborate to deliver the most advanced treatment options. As a Level One Heart Attack Program, we provide fast, coordinated care when you need it most. Constant communication, among our team members and with your family, ensures everyone is informed at every stage of your care.

In 2012, IU Health Methodist Hospital was chosen by Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield as a Blue Distinction Center for cardiac care. Blue Distinction Centers demonstrate better quality care and improved outcomes for patients, with lower rates of complications following certain cardiac procedures and lower rates of healthcare-associated infections compared with their peers. Blue Distinction Center certification is awarded only to select programs that emphasize best-practice care and achieve excellent outcomes.

Level One Heart Attack Program

This year an estimated 600,000 people will experience a new heart attack and another 320,000 will have a recurrent heart attack. That is the equivalent to the population of Indianapolis.

Unfortunately, less than one in four hospitals in the United States has the necessary equipment or specially trained staff to perform a percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), the preferred heart attack treatment. Our Level One Heart Attack Program bridges this gap by coordinating with referring centers across central Indiana to transport heart attack patients to IU Health Methodist Hospital, where the specialized procedure can be performed.

Why Fast Treatment Is Important

The longer a heart attack goes untreated, the more damage occurs to the heart. Research shows that opening a blocked artery within 90 minutes of diagnosis provides the best chance for recovery. A majority of United States. hospitals do not have the services to perform a PCI. That is why we offer quick transport and immediate treatment for patients having a heart attack.

Coordinating Efforts

The Level One Heart Attack Program requires a high degree of coordination that starts with staff who understand the need for a fast response and who can begin immediate medical treatment when the emergency physician diagnoses a heart attack.

As you are being stabilized and prepared for transfer by the referring center, the Level One staff coordinates air or ground transport to IU Health Methodist Hospital Heart & Vascular Care. They also coordinate IU Health-based physicians, nurses, chaplains, admissions staff and security officers to ensure there are no delays.

Through this integrated system of care, physicians, nurses, emergency medical staff, administrators, security personnel, chaplains and other team members work together to provide and coordinate the care you need in a time-sensitive situation.

About the Treatment

For most patients, the preferred treatment to open blocked heart arteries is a procedure called percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). This is also known as coronary angioplasty or coronary stenting and is performed in a specialized cardiac laboratory.

Your physician begins by inserting a long, thin tube (catheter) with a small balloon on its tip into the affected artery. When the balloon is inflated, it presses the plaque against the artery wall and allows blood to flow more freely. Stents, which are small, mesh tubes, may also be used together with the balloon to keep your arteries open.

Level One Vascular Emergency Program

When it comes to treating diseases and conditions affecting the arteries of the circulatory system, every second is critical. Sudden aortic syndromes are life threatening and require a highly skilled, multidisciplinary team of physicians and resources.

Our Level One Vascular Emergency physicians deliver a unique, streamlined treatment for patients from across the state of Indiana. Sudden aortic syndromes include thoracic (chest) aortic aneurysms and/or dissections, and ruptured/symptomatic abdominal aortic aneurysms. We also treat acute limb ischemia (lack of circulation to an arm or leg).

Our program has the needed resources and treatment options many outlying or referring hospitals do not have readily available. This gives us the unique ability to reduce treatment delays and provide evidenced-based therapies.

Why Fast Treatment Is Important

IU Health Methodist Hospital is never on diversion (rerouting to other hospitals) for cardiothoracic and vascular emergencies. The high mortality rate of vascular emergency patients underscores the importance of timely treatment intervention. Mortality rates have dramatically decreased within the streamlined, rapid response program provided by the physicians of IU Health Methodist Hospital Heart & Vascular Care.

This high degree of interdisciplinary coordination starts with staff who understand the need for fast response and who initiate immediate medical treatment when the emergency physician diagnoses a vascular emergency.

A Streamlined System for Comprehensive Care

The Level One Vascular Emergency program represents a regional healthcare delivery system, supported by emergent transport, to help treat patients with cardiothoracic and vascular conditions. The foundation of the program is the one-call process. When an emergency room physician diagnoses a vascular emergency, a single call prompts a number of actions including:

  • Transportation for the patient, either by air or ground, to IU Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis
  • Activation of the appropriate surgeons and treatment team
  • Facilitation of physician-to-physician communication
  • Nursing patient information exchange
  • Guaranteed bed placement for the patient

Continuity of Care

Our Level One program understands the importance of a coordinated return of patients to their local community for:

  • Continued care or cardiac rehabilitation
  • Individualized education for referral hospitals
  • Education for emergency medical services (EMS) providers to implement the Level One Vascular Emergency protocols

Our physicians and other caregivers strive to communicate treatment processes in a timely and cohesive manner with patients and their primary caregivers.

Transfer Center

The Level One Vascular Emergency Program is designed so all referring centers call a single number, which is the Transfer Center. The Transfer Center nurse prompts the referring center for the following:

  • Type of vascular emergency
  • The hospital they are calling from
  • The patient’s name and weight
  • A call-back number
  • Type of surgeon needed

The Transfer Center faxes the appropriate documents. This includes instructions to upload the computerized tomography (CAT) scans to the IU Health Methodist Hospital website, so the surgeon can review your films before your arrival. Within minutes, your transportation is arranged with the closest available air or ground advanced life support (ALS) ambulance service to the referring hospital.

The Transfer Center relays your information to all appropriate team members. The on-call surgeon and the operating room charge nurse are conferenced by the Transfer Center to the referring facilities’ emergency room physician. After this conversation, the surgeon directs the operating room (OR) charge nurse to prepare the OR for a procedure or to transfer the patient to the intensive care unit (ICU).

As you are transported to IU Health Methodist Hospital, the team makes all necessary preparations to expedite treatment. The Transfer Center alerts the treatment team via pagers as to your estimated time of arrival and any condition updates.

Pastoral Care also offers unique services in this program with around-the-clock involvement with you and your family. The on-call chaplain meets your family as they arrive, escorts them to the appropriate area of the hospital, facilitates updates on your condition and lends any needed support.

Advanced Heart Care Program

IU Health Heart & Vascular Care Advanced Heart Care Program (AHCP) focuses on preventing the progression of heart failure and improving the patient's quality of life. AHCP does this by offering the most recent and promising cardiovascular care treatment.

AHCP patients include those with:

Our programs help you become an active partner in your heart failure treatment. The specialized physicians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses and a dedicated social worker create a unique treatment plan for you.

This plan includes:

  • Advanced medical therapies
  • Cutting-edge innovations in cardiology
  • Mechanical heart-assist devices
  • Surgical interventions including resynchronization therapy and heart transplantation

Clinical Services

We work closely with your primary care or referring physician to effectively manage your individual needs. This begins with a comprehensive evaluation to help us understand your heart problem. The heart care team develops an individualized treatment program and our specialists provide progress summary reports to your physician.

Ventricular Assist Device Program

The Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) program at IU Health is an established, nationally-recognized program servicing patients from all parts of Indiana and our neighboring states. Our program consists of dedicated heart failure cardiologists and ventricular assist device surgeons committed to the success of patients undergoing implantation of these devices. These physicians are teamed with an extensive team of nurses, a dietician, a physical and occupational therapist, and social support that collaborate together to ensure the best possible outcomes for the patients.

The goal of advanced therapies such as a VAD is to improve the health and quality of life of patients. VADs increase the blood flow from the heart to the rest of the body. The VAD program evaluates patients with different types of heart failure that may have developed from a heart attack, family genes, heart failure that occurred after giving birth, or even heart failure of an unknown cause. VADs are also used to bridge patients to a heart transplant. Theycan be discussed during the initial visit at the Advanced Heart and Lung Care Clinic). IU Health VAD program also participates in national trials with newer device technologies so we can offer our patients the latest and leading edge treatments.

As an established, high-volume VAD center, you can be assured of the highest quality care throughout all stages of your care with us.

What to Expect

The advanced therapies team wants to make sure a VAD is the best heart therapy option. Once a referral is made to the clinic by a patient or physician, a thorough review of the patient’s medical and surgical history will be initiated. Team members from the Clinic will initiate appointments with our heart failure cardiologist and other disciplines to begin the evaluation process for VAD. The evaluation process will be educational, providing information about VADs and other forms of advanced therapies. An important aspect of successful VAD therapy is caregiver support, and we therefore request a patient’s support system come to the initial appointments with the patient.

We encourage you to read more about our aligned Heart Failure and Heart Transplant programs.

Contact the Advanced Heart and Lung Care Clinic at 317.962.9700 to schedule a consultation with one of our advanced therapies teams, or ask your primary care doctor or cardiologist about VAD treatment options at IU Health.

Additional Contact Information

For Patients
Phone: 800.265.3220

For Physicians
Transfer Center contact number: 877.247.1177

Level One Vascular Emergency Program: contact Cynthia Richardson, RN, Level One Vascular Coordinator at 317.962.9465 or crichar5@iuhealth.org