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February 17, 2023

Heritage Valley Health System's E-Connections newsletter is published bi-weekly.

Our next issue will be Friday, March 3, 2023.

Innovative Treatments Available at

Heritage Valley’s Heart & Vascular Center

Heritage Valley’s Heart & Vascular Center offers a wide variety of specialized procedures, some of which are highlighted below. For more detailed information, please CLICK HERE to visit our website. To make an appointment with any of our Heart & Vascular Center Cardiologists and Electrophysiologists, please call 724-773-4502. To schedule an appointment with our Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgeons, please call 724-773-8289.

Atrial Fibrillation Ablation (For treatment of AFib)

Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) is an irregular heart rhythm that affects the upper chambers of the heart. This arrhythmia prevents blood from being pumped efficiently to the rest of your body. As a result, AFib may impact your ability to perform daily activities, cause you to feel tired and impact your overall quality of life.

AFib Ablation is a minimally-invasive procedure that uses hot or cold energy to create scars in your heart tissue where the arrhythmia, or irregular/abnormal heart rhythm, is occurring. At Heritage Valley Beaver, we use Cryoablation (cold) and Radiofrequency (hot) ablation methods. The scars help to block the transmission of the electrical signals that cause the Atrial Fibrillation. In most cases, a catheter is inserted into a large vein or artery in your groin, although sometimes a vein in your arm or neck might be used. By re-establishing normal heart rhythms in people with certain arrhythmias, AFib ablation can help to control the heart rate in people with rapid arrhythmias and reduce the risk of blood clots, strokes, heart failure or other health complications.

Barostim Device Implantation (For treatment of Systolic Heart Failure)

Barostim is a neuromodulation device that is implanted under the collarbone and, unlike other heart failure treatment options such as a pacemaker or defibrillator, utilizes an electrode that lies on the patient’s carotid artery and does not touch the heart. It works by stimulating baroreceptors, the natural sensors in your blood vessels that communicate with the nervous system, and restoring balance to the part of your body that naturally regulates the heartbeat. It essentially uses your body’s own reflexes to improve cardiovascular function by helping the heart to pump more efficiently and relieve symptoms of heart failure. 

The purpose of Barostim is to improve the quality of life for people with systolic heart failure. This refers to people who have reduced ejection fractions, which means that the heart isn’t functioning as it should. Blood flows too slowly and doesn’t meet the body’s need for blood and oxygen. Barostim has been shown to reduce heart failure symptoms and improve the quality of life for patients with ejection fractions of 35% or less by significantly decreasing their symptoms.

Enhanced External Counter Pulsation (EECP) (For treatment of Angina)

A treatment option for chronic stable angina is Enhanced External Counter Pulsation (EECP), a non-invasive outpatient treatment that uses pressure on the lower limbs to improve blood flow. The goal with EECP therapy is to improve circulation and make your blood flow through your heart more efficiently, and ultimately decrease the workload of your heart.

EECP treatments are typically one hour in length and given four to five days a week for seven to nine consecutive weeks, for a total of 35 treatments. You will lie on a table and three pairs of large blood pressure cuffs will be wrapped around your legs. Electrodes are placed on your chest to monitor vitals, and your blood pressure is monitored during the procedure. By inflating and deflating, the cuffs help to push blood back to your heart from your lower extremities, based on your heart rate. By stimulating the movement of blood, EECP promotes the creation of new blood vessels that bypass the blockage causing the Angina and associated symptoms. This all helps the heart to function more efficiently, which reduces chest pain. Side effects from the treatment are typically minor, and most people tend to feel better in the last two to three weeks of treatment.

Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) (For treatment of severe Aortic Stenosis)

TAVR is a minimally invasive procedure for patients suffering from severe Aortic Stenosis in which a catheter is used to implant a new valve within the damaged valve. It is a less invasive alternative to open heart surgery. During the transfemoral approach, a small incision is made in the patient’s leg and a catheter is inserted, giving access to the patient’s heart through the femoral artery. The new heart valve is compressed onto a balloon, placed in the delivery system, and then guided to the patient’s aortic valve. Once it reaches the damaged valve, the balloon is inflated and expands the new valve into place. The leaflets of the damaged valve will hold the new valve in place and it will begin working immediately.

Transcarotid Artery Revascularization (TCAR) (For treatment of Carotid Artery Disease)

TCAR is a minimally invasive procedure designed to treat Carotid Artery Disease by clearing blockages and opening a narrowed carotid artery, thereby reducing a patient’s risk of stroke. The carotid arteries are the main blood vessels that supply blood to the neck, face and brain. With Carotid Artery Disease, fatty deposits build up along the inner layer of the arteries and form plaque. This thickening narrows the arteries and decreases or blocks blood flow to the brain. 

Your surgeon will make a small incision in your neck, just above your collarbone. With TCAR, there is less risk of nerve damage, as the procedure requires a much smaller incision. A tube is then placed directly into your carotid artery and connected to an advanced system that temporarily reverses blood flow away from your brain to prevent loose bits of plaque from reaching your brain and potentially causing a stroke. Blood still reaches your brain through other blood vessels. Your blood is filtered by the system and returned to your body through a second tube connected to a vein in your groin. While the blood flow is reversed, a stent will be inserted into your carotid artery. Once the stent is in place, your surgeon will stop the blood flow reversal and your blood again flows toward your brain.   

Watchman FLX™ Technology (To reduce Stroke risk in people with AFib not caused by a heart valve problem)

The latest-generation WATCHMAN FLX™ Left Atrial Appendage Closure Implant has been proven to reduce stroke risk in people with AFib not caused by a heart valve problem. The WATCHMAN FLX™ Implant is designed to keep harmful blood clots from entering your blood stream, potentially causing a stroke, by permanently closing off an area of the heart called the Left Atrial Appendage (LAA), which is a pouch-like bulge in the Left Atrium, or left upper heart chamber. By implanting the WATCHMAN FLX™ into the heart (through a catheter placed into a vein in the upper leg) and closing off the LAA, the risk of stroke may be reduced and, over time, patients may be able to stop taking their blood thinners. While closing the LAA reduces stroke risk associated with AFib, it does not treat the AFib itself.   

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