Heart & Cardiac

Stay on Top of Your Heart Health During COVID-19, Part II

Posted on Aug 27, 2020 in Heart & Cardiac, Scroll Images

In another post, we provided information on how to read your blood pressure and what medical conditions may result from having prolonged high blood pressure. In this article, we offer tips from Michael X. Pham, M.D., M.P.H., chief of cardiology with Sutter’s California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco on how to reduce—or maintain—your blood pressure.

Better Diet, Better Heart Health

To lower one’s risk of high blood pressure, Dr. Pham encourages people to limit their sodium and eat a heart-healthy diet. Canned foods, condiments, deli meats, salad dressings and sauces are some of the biggest sodium culprits. Instead, make meals using garlic, lemon juice, herbs, spices or seasonings with no salt added. Do not add salt to prepackaged or frozen meals, as they are already loaded with sodium.

What goes on our plates at mealtime also offers insight into how healthfully we’re eating. “Mentally divide your plate into four quadrants. Two quarters (or half) should be fruits and veggies. One quarter should be proteins (lean fish, chicken or beans), and the remaining quarter should be a whole grain or starchy vegetable (brown rice, sweet potato),” says Dr. Pham.

Dr. Pham says that staying hydrated with water is good. People should avoid sugary drinks and alcohol as much as possible.

Get Those Steps In

Exercise is also key in maintaining a healthy heart. For this reason, it’s important to walk outside every day—but check air quality levels first.

Dr. Pham recommends a goal of 7,000-10,000 steps daily. “If you can’t get in a big walk all at once, break it into shorter walks throughout the day.” With increased community spread of COVID-19, he recommends walking early in the morning or early in the evening when there are fewer people out, and, if possible, be conscious of physical distancing and wear a mask. For those who cannot go outside, take frequent standing breaks and do laps around your house or yard.”

Your Heart & COVID-19

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with moderate to severe hypertension may be at increased risk of COVID-19 complications.

“Hypertension makes it harder to fight off infections. Regular check-ups allow your provider to help manage your condition and provide a proactive plan if your blood pressure gets worse,” says Dr. Pham.

Know your numbers. An at-home blood pressure monitor, available at your local drugstore or online, can track your blood pressure readings in between checkups. Dr. Pham suggests bringing your at-home monitor to your next in-person appointment to help ensure its readings are accurate and reliable.

Award-Winning Cardiac Care

In August 2020, ten hospitals across Sutter’s not-for-profit integrated network of care received recognition by the American Stroke Association for providing a high level of stroke care as part of the 2019 Get With The Guidelines® awards.

Additionally, 20 hospitals in the Sutter system received recognition from the American Heart Association for consistently applying the American College of Cardiology guidelines when treating patients with heart failure. Read more about these recognitions here.

Options For Care

The heart is one of your body’s most essential organs. Don’t take it—or caring for it—for granted.

Sutter Health is committed to your health and safety. If you need care or to make an appointment today, Sutter’s care teams are ready to serve you in person or by video visit.

For more on Sutter’s heart disease prevention programs, visit here.

Stay on Top of Your Heart Health During COVID-19, Part I

Posted on Aug 27, 2020 in Heart & Cardiac, Scroll Images

The pandemic has understandably transformed many of us into housebound creatures, oftentimes moving less and eating more.

“It’s created the perfect storm for developing high blood pressure. For those who are already hypertensive, their blood pressure can get out of control,” says Michael X. Pham, M.D., M.P.H., chief of cardiology with Sutter’s California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco.

People may be exercising less, can be generally feeling more stress, and may lack the normal outlets to decompress, including time with family and friends, travel, attending sporting events or going to the movies.

“People are also eating less healthy,” says Dr. Pham. They may be ordering takeout more often or eating processed foods because they last longer and require fewer trips to the store.

But there’s hope for our hearts! Dr. Pham says healthy eating and exercise can help prevent, manage, and stave off high blood pressure. “Even small changes can make a difference,” says Dr. Pham.

Blood Pressure Basics

Blood pressure readings have two numbers—systolic and diastolic. For example, a blood pressure number would be written 118/78 mm Hg. The top number (systolic) accounts for the pressure when the heart beats. The bottom number (diastolic), accounts for the pressure between heart beats.

A person will be diagnosed with high blood pressure if their systolic blood is 130 or higher and their diastolic is 80 or higher. A blood pressure reading of 120/80 mm Hg or lower is considered normal.

“If a patient’s blood pressure is high or borderline, it’s a warning sign,” says Dr. Pham.

High Blood Pressure Puts Your Heart at Risk

A person’s blood pressure rises and falls throughout the day, but, if it stays high for a long time, that person may have the medical condition of high blood pressure, also known as hypertension.

Hypertension can cause heart disease or kidney disease—and may lead to heart attack, stroke or even death.

“High blood pressure doesn’t usually cause symptoms—it’s a silent disease. Most people don’t know they have it until they go to their healthcare provider for a routine visit,” says Dr. Pham.

Safe Care Sites

For hypertensive patients, regular blood pressure checks allow your care team to monitor your treatment plan and the effectiveness of your medications. For those whose blood pressure is under control, preventative care is still important.

Sutter Health’s integrated network has convenient care options available to help you stay on top of your health.

In-person: Sutter care sites have implemented safety measures to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure. These include, but are not limited to: extra cleaning, screenings before entry, and mandatory masking.

Online: Sutter care sites also offer convenient access to video visits for those who don’t want to come into an office environment and don’t need direct contact. Video visits allow your doctor to see, hear and talk with you as they would during an in-person visit.

Sutter Hospitals Honored for High Quality Stroke and Cardiac Care

Posted on Aug 5, 2020 in Heart & Cardiac, Scroll Images

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Twelve hospitals within Sutter’s not-for-profit network received recognition from the American Stroke Association (ASA) for providing a high level of stroke care and participating in the ASA’s Get With The Guidelines® program. Additionally, 20 hospitals in the Sutter system received recognition from the American Heart Association (AHA) for consistently applying the American College of Cardiology guidelines when treating patients with heart failure, and participating in the AHA’s Get With The Guidelines® program.

Stroke Care

Sutter hospitals including Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland, California Pacific Medical Center – Van Ness campus in San Francisco, Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, Memorial Medical Center in Modesto, Mills-Peninsula Medical Center in Burlingame, Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento, Sutter Tracy Community Hospital, Novato Community Hospital, and Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital each earned a Get With The Guidelines®-Stroke Gold-Plus Quality Achievement Award for meeting or exceeded performance-focused quality benchmarks set forth by the American Stroke Association. Memorial Hospital Los Banos and Sutter Roseville Medical Center earned the Silver-Plus Quality Achievement Award and Sutter Solano Medical Center earned Bronze. 

“The care teams in our Brain & Mind service line work closely together, using evidence-based clinical practices, so patients receive high-quality care and exceptional service,” said Bill Isenberg, M.D., chief quality and safety officer for Sutter Health. “Our goal of continuous improvement in the neurosciences helps drive and strengthen our integrated health care network.”

Each of the honored hospitals are designated by The Joint Commission as Primary Stroke Centers and serve as a resource available to patients needing stroke-related services.

Our goal of continuous improvement in the neurosciences helps drive and strengthen our integrated health care network.

Eleven of the Sutter hospitals honored also earned a place in the Stroke Honor Roll —with Sutter Tracy Community Hospital and Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital each receiving Elite Plus Honor Roll status. To qualify for this recognition, these hospitals met quality measures developed to reduce the time between the patient’s arrival at the hospital and treatment with the clot-buster tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA, the only drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat acute ischemic stroke.

Furthermore, this year marks the debut of two new Stroke Honor Rolls, and Sutter hospitals earned a place on each. Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento is among only 11 hospitals in California to be listed on the Advanced Therapy Honor Roll which recognizes participating hospitals that met timeliness targets for the removal of blood clots from the brain under image guidance. This procedure, known as endovascular thrombectomy, is not performed at all hospitals. Additionally, eight Sutter hospitals earned a place on the new Type 2 Diabetes Honor Roll, which promotes evidence-based care for patients with this condition.

Cardiology Care

The 2020 Get With The Guidelines® awards also recognizes hospitals that maintain high standards in the treatment of heart failure. Overall, 20 Sutter hospitals demonstrated their commitment to providing the most appropriate cardiac care by following nationally recognized, research-based guidelines to treat heart failure and participating in the Get With The Guidelines® program.

Sutter’s Alta Bates Summit Medical Center (Oakland and Berkeley campuses), California Pacific Medical Center (Davies, Mission Bernal, and Van Ness campuses), Memorial Medical Center, Mills-Peninsula Medical Center, Memorial Hospital Los Banos, Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital, Sutter Coast Hospital in Crescent City, Sutter Davis Hospital, Sutter Delta Medical Center in Antioch, Sutter Lakeside Hospital in Lakeport, Sutter Roseville Medical Center, Sutter Solano Medical Center in Vallejo, Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento, Novato Community Hospital, and Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital each earned a Get With The Guidelines®- Gold Quality Achievement Award for high quality heart failure care. Sutter Tracy Community Hospital earned Silver and Eden Medical Center earned the Bronze Quality Achievement Award for high quality heart failure care. 

Sutter’s Mills-Peninsula Medical Center also earned recognition for the evidence based care of coronary artery disease, and for meeting or exceeding care recommendations for patients presenting with an ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) – a specific kind of heart attack that can be caused by coronary artery disease.

“The American Heart Association and American Stroke Association are pleased to recognize these Sutter hospitals for their commitment to stroke and cardiac care,” said Lee H. Schwamm, M.D., national chairperson of the Quality Oversight Committee and Executive Vice Chair of Neurology, Director of Acute Stroke Services, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts. “Research has shown that hospitals adhering to clinical measures through the Get With The Guidelines® quality improvement initiative can often see fewer readmissions and lower mortality rates.”

Sutter Health proactively implements programs across its integrated network that continuously improve the quality and value of healthcare for patients. Its integration across regions, clinical settings and data environments is delivering care models with some of the best clinical outcomes in the nation. From heart transplants to valve replacements to cardiac ablations, Sutter’s Cardiovascular Health service line practitioners use innovative procedures and treatments to care for patients with a wide variety of specialized heart and vascular needs.

Stroke and Heart Attack Rapid Response: Timing is Everything!

Posted on May 13, 2020 in Heart & Cardiac, Scroll Images

May is National Stroke Awareness Month

If you or a loved one is experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 or visit your nearest emergency room.

SAN FRANCISCO –Fear of exposure to COVID-19 shouldn’t keep you away from the emergency department – especially if you’re experiencing signs of stroke or heart attack.

Sutter emergency departments have COVID-19 precautions in place and the capacity to treat those in need. Safety measures include masking patients; keeping patients with COVID-19 symptoms away from common waiting areas, entrances and other patients; arranging for environmental service staff to perform extra cleaning and disinfecting; visitor restrictions (with a few exceptions) and requiring all staff to have their temperature taken before each shift. (Read more here.)

Each year, thousands of people come to Sutter emergency departments with stroke or heart attack symptoms.

David Tong, M.D., director of the Mills-Peninsula Medical Center Stroke Program and regional director of stroke programs for Sutter’s West Bay Region said in a recent interview with The Mercury News, that as a result of people avoiding hospitals for fear of exposure to the coronavirus, some things like CAT scans or MRIs may be easier to schedule now than they were six months ago.

Time is of the essence for treatment of strokes and heart attacks in order to forestall long-term consequences.

With Stroke, Time = Brain
“For strokes in particular, the faster you treat the patient, the better the outcome,” Tong says. “This is not the time to ignore important symptoms because you’re going to miss the opportunity for treatment. We have all appropriate emergency department and hospital protocols in place to keep patients safe.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an easy way to remember the most common signs of stroke and how to respond is with the acronym F.A.S.T.:

F = Face drooping: Ask the person to smile. Does one side droop?
A = Arm weakness: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S = Speech difficulty: Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Are the words slurred?
T = Time to call 9-1-1: If a person shows any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately. Stroke treatment can begin in the ambulance.

With Heart Attack, Time = Muscle
Experts warn “time is muscle” with heart attacks. The longer treatment is delayed, the more damage can occur to the heart muscle – and the chances for recovery decrease.

According to Brian Potts, M.D., medical director of the emergency department at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center’s Berkeley campus, the most common symptom of heart attack for men and women is pain or discomfort in the chest or in other areas of the upper body (in one or both arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach). Other symptoms include shortness of breath (with or without chest discomfort); breaking out in a cold sweat; nausea or lightheadedness.

“It’s vital to treat heart attacks as soon as possible. Our best-case scenario is a patient who comes to the emergency department as soon as symptoms begin. Many people rationalize away chest discomfort or jaw pain as a momentary digestion issue, but it’s better to be safe than sorry,” says Potts. “If you’re in so much pain or discomfort that you’re wondering, ‘should I go to the emergency department?’ the answer is probably yes.”

Scott Kidd Gets a Second Chance

Posted on Apr 27, 2020 in Heart & Cardiac, Scroll Images

If ever there was a time to believe in miracles, this may be it.

It started late last year in Folsom, Calif., when the Oakland Athletics West Coast scouting supervisor, Scott Kidd, finally scheduled a visit with his doctor after being unable to shake a persistent flu for two weeks. With the December holidays fast approaching, his wife, Gina, and their three children had become increasingly worried. Although Scott was otherwise healthy and in excellent shape, something wasn’t right. And during that medical appointment, the news Scott’s doctor shared wasn’t good.

As it had been for several days already, Scott’s heart rate was very erratic – from 167 beats per minute down to 101 and back up to 140. Fearful that he may have a stroke at any moment, Scott was rushed to the emergency department in Folsom where his condition deteriorated rapidly. Scott then went into cardiac arrest and was immediately moved to the ICU (intensive care unit).

It was starting to look like the situation wasn’t going to improve. Scott was placed on ECMO (extracorporeal electro corporeal membrane oxygenation) support and, after 12 days in a medically induced coma, he was airlifted to California Pacific Medical Center’s Van Ness Campus, part of Sutter’s not-for-profit integrated network of care, in San Francisco. The news from his care team – led by cardiologist Dr. Michael Pham and surgeon Dr. Brett Sheridan – was urgent: Scott needed a new heart and a new kidney as soon as possible.

Knowing that it could take months or even years to find a suitable donor(s), the Kidds were preparing for a long wait. Less than a week later, however – and on Scott’s 46th birthday – both a suitable heart and a kidney were found.

Scott’s life-saving transplant surgery was a success and he’s on the road to a full recovery. Through it all, holding her emotions in check while also managing the family duties back home, was Gina. After finally having a chance to look back on the whirlwind of emotion her family has endured, Gina explained how she could not have felt safer – or been more proud – of her Sutter Health/CPMC medical team.

“When we first arrived to CPMC’s Van Ness Campus location, I felt like we were in the ‘Beverly Hills’ of hospitals,” she said. “From the superb cleanliness to the team’s professionalism, we felt like we’d gone from the minor leagues to the big leagues. That was very comforting.”

Gina said her husband’s care team delivered world-class service that helped ease her anxiety. “Dr. Pham and Dr. Sheridan made every worry I had practically disappear,” she said. “Even though I was scared, they were always there for him and for me. They were so quietly confident about my husband’s path to recovery, which made me feel good. I don’t know how I’ll ever be able to thank them.”

Although David Forst, the Athletics general manager, knew inside his heart that Scott would recover, the entire situation was difficult to comprehend.

“It was a miracle,” he said. “I hate using the word ‘miracle’ because it undersells the science and medical work. To go from a coma to having a heart and kidney show up practically out of nowhere, and now his incredible on-track recovery – it’s just amazing.”

More than 50 years ago, CPMC conducted its first transplant operation—a kidney transplant. Since then, the CPMC care teams have performed more than 9,000 organ transplants, including more than 6,200 kidney, 2,000 liver, 400 pancreas, and 500 heart transplants. The new Van Ness campus hospital features custom-designed transplant operating rooms helping to optimize collaboration. For more information, please visit CPMC’s Transplant Services.

Alta Bates Summit Medical Center Cardiac Program Earns Highest Possible Rating for Mitral Valve Surgery from Society of Thoracic Surgeons

Posted on Mar 4, 2020 in Heart & Cardiac, Scroll Images

OAKLAND, Calif.Alta Bates Summit Medical Center earned a distinguished three-star rating, the highest possible, from The Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) for excellence in mitral valve replacement and repair (MVRR) surgery. Of the approximately 130 participating hospitals in California, Alta Bates Summit, part of the Sutter Health not-for-profit network of care, is one of only four hospitals in the state to earn this three-star rating for MVRR surgery.

Mitral valve replacement and mitral valve repair surgeries are performed to treat diseases of the mitral valve — the valve located between the left heart chambers.

Junaid Khan, MD
Junaid Khan, MD

“The three-star rating is widely regarded as the gold standard by which cardiac surgery programs are evaluated and it’s the highest honor achievable,” says Junaid Khan, MD, director of Cardiovascular Services for Alta Bates Summit. “We take great pride in the high-quality care we provide that has resulted in long-term positive results. This recognition validates our comprehensive heart program’s excellence.”

The STS star rating system is one of the most sophisticated and highly regarded overall measures of quality in health care, rating the benchmarked outcomes of cardiothoracic surgery programs across the United States and Canada. The star rating is calculated using a combination of quality measures for specific procedures performed by an STS Adult Cardiac Surgery Database participant.

Alta Bates Summit also earned a three-star rating from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) in 2019 for patient care and outcomes in isolated coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) procedures—the most commonly performed open-heart surgery.

Mitul Kadakia, MD

“Alta Bates Summit provides exceptional care for our valvular heart disease patients under the leadership of Dr. Russell Stanten and Dr. Khan,” says Mitul Kadakia, MD, FACC director, Structural Heart and Valve Disease, Alta Bates Summit. “It is a privilege to be a part of a cardiac program which results in these kind of incredible outcomes for our patients. The 3-Star STS rating for CABG and Mitral surgery is great asset for our patients.”

Russell Stanten, MD

Dr. Khan praised the hospital’s physicians, staff members and departments who were instrumental in making this award possible.

“None of these amazing results would have been possible without our entire team including the expertise of our surgeons, cardiologists, anesthesiologists, nurses, physical and occupational therapists, case management and rehabilitation services,” adds Dr. Khan.

Michael W. Tsang, MD

Michael W. Tsang, M.D. , FACC, director of the Echocardiography Laboratory at Alta Bates Summit says, “While earning a 3 star rating in the recent public report is a great achievement for the medical center and cardiac surgery program, it is the constant and consistent feedback from my patients about their own wonderful and positive surgical experiences that make Alta Bates Summit one of the best mitral valve surgery programs in the state. Under Dr. Khan’s leadership, I have seen steady and significant strides made in our ability to deliver high quality care and to improve patient satisfaction.”

Alta Bates Summit’s three-star rating also drew praise from cardiovascular leaders at other East Bay hospitals.

“The three star rating for CABG and Mitral valve surgery by the nationally recognized Society of Thoracic Surgeons is well earned,” said Marina Tirlesskaya, MD, FACC, Chief of Cardiology, Alameda Health System. “Dr. Khan and his team have been providing outstanding care for our patients with consistently excellent results and unmatched compassion for our community and underserved patient population, supporting our mission at Alameda Health System of caring, healing, teaching and serving all.”

“As a community hospital with no onsite cardiac surgery program, our patients are fortunate to have the ABSMC cardiac surgical team provide superlative, prompt and outstanding care to our patients requiring emergent/urgent bypass surgery and mitral valve repair at Alta Bates Summit,” said Aditya Jain, MD, FACC, Director, Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory, St. Rose Hospital. “Their patient centric team approach has enhanced patient survival and improved overall well-being in the postoperative period.