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Novant Health offers cardiac care close to home

SALISBURY – When facing cardiac arrest or stroke, every second counts. That’s why it’s so important that Novant Health Heart & Vascular Institute is in Salisbury.

Sonya Helms, nurse manager of the Heart & Vascular Institute, says that the heart has two components: “plumbing” and “electricity.”

The plumbing component is the flow of blood through the arteries of the heart. The electrical component of the heart keeps the blood pumping. When something short circuits, physicians use electrophysiology, a diagnostic procedure, to take a closer look at the heart’s electrical activities to help figure out what’s wrong.

Helms said that patients who typically use the electrophysiology program are patients who have experienced cardiac arrest, heart rate problem or rhythm condition.

“This could mean your heart pumps too slow, too fast or maybe irregularly,” said Helms.

Physicians at the Heart & Vascular Institute specialize in looking at all aspects of the electrical current in the heart.

“They aren’t just worrying about the muscle, but they are also paying attention to the electricity supplied to the muscle to make it work,” Helms said.

Helms said that it’s vital to have the special heart institute in the community because it allows patients to receive care and follow-up visits close to home.

“When they get devices such as pacemakers or defibrillators, they have to follow up with not only their cardiologist, but also technologists who work for the manufacturer of the device to adjust the settings.”

Patients have to do this more frequently if the heart continues to beat too slowly, too quickly or if it’s not beating fast enough during exercise. Helms said that not having to transfer patients and their families to facilities outside the community for treatment is a huge benefit.

A state-of-the-art institute with lifelong support

Included in the Heart & Vascular Institute is a cardiac rehabilitation and wellness center for patients who recently experienced heart problems, or for patients who would like to exercise under supervision.

Helms said that the rehabilitation center helps those who are afraid to exercise in fear of triggering another problem.

“It can be scary to get back to your exercise program,” Helms said.

The rehabilitation program gives security for patients to have exercise specialists and nurses nearby.

“Patients start slowly and get assessed with what they are able to do,” Helms said. “The specialists safely increase their exercise trying to get them back to baseline or getting them to a better quality of life.”

The center also has an education portion, staffed by registered dietitians, exercise specialists and nurses who create a comprehensive, individualized plan for each patient.

Rowan Medical Center recently received accreditation as a chest pain center with percutaneous coronary intervention from the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care.

“This means that we are working with the society and continuously striving to ensure that the care we are providing to our patients, the way we assess them the minute they walk in the door, the protocols we follow, the way we transport them to the cardiac catheterization lab and the way we care for them after the cardiac event is following the research and the best practices,” Helms said.

To prevent cardiac events, Helms said it’s important to reduce risk factors as much as possible. Patients can’t control genetics and family history, but they can reduce their additional risks by seeing a primary care provider, eating a cardiac-healthy diet, exercising, following physician instructions and refraining from smoking.

For more information about the Novant Health Heart & Vascular Institute in Salisbury, call 704-210-5052.

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