Advanced technology, innovative surgical procedures and treatments, physician leadership and quality patient care are a few of the many means by which Cardiovascular at Indiana University Health North Hospital are improving lives.
We rely on the expertise of world-renowned physicians, as well as the region's top medical and surgical staff, to provide the best heart and vascular care in Indiana.
A key patient benefit is IU Health's ability to care for the entire body, not just the heart. Often, heart and vascular problems can lead to other medical issues. At the cardiovascular center, these broader medical conditions can be cared for by a team of specialists from any discipline without the need to transport the patient elsewhere -- a level of care that is unrivaled in the area.
Cardiovascular at IU Health North Hospital offer many cardiothoracic services, including the following:
The first step to preventing heart disease is to reduce your chances of developing coronary artery disease. An overview of known and potential risk factors follows, along with prevention suggestions.
- Tobacco use - Smoking more than doubles your chance of developing coronary artery disease and it makes you up to six times more likely to have a heart attack. Smoking can be directly attributed to 20 percent of coronary artery disease deaths. The solution is to quit. Your risk decreases rapidly after quitting and can return to that of nonsmokers within three years
- High cholesterol - Blood cholesterol is a fatty substance that travels through the bloodstream. When blood cholesterol is high, it forms plaque. This plaque builds up within the artery walls, narrows the opening and restricts blood flow. Over time, this buildup can lead to coronary artery disease, heart attack and stroke. Your cholesterol can be checked with a simple blood test. The results will reveal total cholesterol as well as low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.
LDL is sometimes referred to as "bad cholesterol" because it builds up in the artery walls. For people with heart disease, LDL cholesterol should be 100 or less. HDL is known as the "good cholesterol" because it helps remove LDL cholesterol from the bloodstream. HDL cholesterol should be 35 or higher.
- High blood pressure (hypertension) - Sometimes referred to as the "silent killer," high blood pressure often has no symptoms and can lead to heart attack, stroke and kidney disease. When blood moves through the body it presses against the artery walls. The measurement of this force is called blood pressure. The systolic reading (the top number) is the pressure of blood against the artery walls measured during a heartbeat. A diastolic reading (the bottom number) is the pressure measured between heartbeats. Your blood pressure is considered too high if it measures 140 over 90 or higher.
- Physical inactivity - Regular exercise can decrease your risk of heart attack by a third to a half. If you have been inactive for a long time, and are overweight or out of shape, talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program.
- Obesity - Being more than 20 percent over your ideal weight contributes to a host of other coronary artery disease risk factors, including high blood pressure, diabetes and high levels of blood lipids.
- Diabetes - You are three to seven times more likely to die of cardiovascular disease if you have diabetes. An aggressive approach to controlling diabetes and other risk factors may reduce your chances of cardiovascular complications.
- Gender - While more men develop heart disease and experience stroke than women, the death rate for women from cardiovascular disease and stroke is higher.
- Aspirin - In men over 50, there is reasonable evidence to suggest that taking a regular-strength aspirin every other day or taking 81 milligrams of aspirin every day reduces the chance of developing coronary artery disease. In women, there currently is less evidence of benefit. On the other hand, aspirin can cause side effects, including bleeding, so talk to your doctor before starting on a regular dose of aspirin.
- Alcohol intake - The key here is moderation. Moderate drinking, one to two drinks a day, seems to decrease your chances of developing heart disease. However, more than that amount raises your risk. This advice is generally given to both men and women, although there is some evidence that more than one drink of alcohol a day may slightly increase the risk of breast cancer in women.
- High homocysteine level - People who have this natural substance in their blood may have increased risk of developing heart disease. You can inherit a tendency to have a high homocysteine level, but it seems that the cause in most people with moderately high levels is a dietary deficiency of folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12. There is no consensus yet among doctors about whether people in general should have their homocysteine levels measured, which is done by a blood test. There is also no proof that lowering the level is beneficial. However, if you've had a parent or sibling develop coronary artery disease before age 55, you may want to have your level checked. If high, you may also want to take folic acid (400 micrograms) and vitamins B6 (100 milligrams) and B12 (100 micrograms) in pill form.
- High triglyceride level - A high level of this fat, especially in association with a low level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) in the blood, appears to predict heart disease. Your triglyceride level is best determined by fasting for 12 hours before the blood test. The main steps in reducing an excessive blood triglyceride level is to cut down on the amount of sugar and refined starches in your diet, lose weight if you are obese, limit your alcohol intake and control diabetes.
IU Health North Hospital has the most state-of-the-art interventional radiology services in the area. If you are experiencing symptoms but are not sure if you have coronary artery disease, see your doctor for a diagnostic test. Your physician may order one of the following tests:
- Cardiac Testing – Echocardiogram, Stress Echo, TEE, Cardioversion, EKG and Holter Monitoring.
- Vascular Testing – Carotid’s Doppler, Upper and Lower Venus Doppler, Upper and Lower Arterial Doppler, Lower Extremity Stress Testing
- Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) - This is a graphic record of the electrical activity of the heart as it contracts and relaxes. The ECG can detect abnormal heartbeats, some areas of damage, inadequate blood flow and heart enlargement. We also offer Holter monitors, which is a portable device that monitors electrical activity for at least 24 hours.
- Blood test - A blood test will be done routinely to check for enzymes or other substances that are released when cells begin to die. These are "markers" of the amount of damage to your heart.
- Stress test - An exercise stress test requires you to walk or run on a treadmill while attached to a machine to see how well your arteries handle exertion. Stress tests are not perfect, but when combined with an echocardiogram, they can detect areas of the heart that have poor blood supply.
- Echocardiogram - Now one of the most common cardiac imaging tests in the world and the second most common cardiac test overall, the echocardiogram was developed by IU Health's own Dr. Harvey Feigenbaum. Dr. Feigenbaum discovered this noninvasive technique by placing an ultrasound probe on the chest, which produced an image of the heart's chambers. While lying down or sitting, a technician will coat the instrument with jelly and then will slide the instrument over your chest while viewing your heart on screen.
- Transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) - another type of echocardiogram where an ultrasound probe is passed through the patient's esophagus. The image and evaluation can then be recorded.
- Nuclear Myocardial Perfusion - This test shows areas of the heart that lack blood flow and are damaged. It also can reveal problems with the heart's pumping action. A small amount of radioactive material is injected into a vein, usually in the arm. A scanning camera positioned over the heart records whether the nuclear material is taken up by the heart muscle (healthy areas) or not (damaged areas). The camera also can evaluate how well the heart muscle pumps blood. This test can be done during both rest and exercise, enhancing the usefulness of its results.
- Coronary angiography (or arteriography) - This test is used to check blockages and narrowed areas inside coronary arteries. A fine tube (catheter) is threaded through an artery of an arm or leg up into the heart. A dye that shows up on X-ray is then injected into the blood vessel, and the vessels and heart are filmed and recorded as the heart pumps. The picture is called an angiogram or arteriogram.