Fayetteville woman on road to recovery after interventional cardiac procedure
FAYETTEVILLE, Ga. – June 18, 2010—With the addition of interventional cardiology services at Piedmont Fayette Hospital, area residents no longer need to travel out of the county for many cardiovascular tests and procedures. In Fayetteville, Piedmont Heart Institute cardiologists are performing minimally invasive procedures that help discover, diagnose and treat many heart issues before they become serious.
For Susan Butler of Fayetteville, the expansion of cardiac catheterization services in March could not have come at a better time. She had been following a vigorous exercise routine for several months when she began experiencing shortness of breath. Although she was in good general health, Butler’s cardiologist, Nimish Dhruva, M.D., was suspicious of her initial heart exam and referred her to the cardiac catheterization lab at Piedmont Fayette Hospital.
“It scared the life out of me,” said Butler on discovering she might have a heart problem. “But the staff at Piedmont Fayette Hospital went out of their way to put me at ease and explain every step of the procedure.”
To perform diagnostic cardiac catheterization, a specially-trained interventional cardiologist inserts a thin plastic tube, or catheter, into a blood vessel in the arm or leg and thread it up to the heart. Through the catheter, the doctor can measure pressures, take blood samples, and inject a dye that helps show the heart chambers and blood vessels. This enables the doctor to determine if coronary arteries are narrowed or blocked.
Arteries can become narrowed when plaque builds up inside the lining of the vessels. Depending on the results of a diagnostic cardiac catheterization procedure, a physician may recommend changes in diet and lifestyle or that the patient undergoes angioplasty or open-heart surgery to open blockages.
Interventional procedures to treat affected areas include balloon angioplasty, stent deployment, eximer laser, atherectomy (surgical removal of arterial plaque) or direct intervention for acute myocardial infarction (heart attack). This form of treatment provides many benefits including the avoidance of scars, pain and long post-operative recovery associated with surgery.
In the past, for Fayetteville citizens like Butler, this type of interventional procedure generally meant a trip to Atlanta. However, Dr. Dhruva and his colleague Charles I. Wilmer, M.D., arranged for Butler’s testing at Piedmont Fayette Hospital.
Dr. Wilmer and Dr. Dhruva found several blockages in the arteries near Butler’s heart. Both doctors, with Piedmont Heart Institute Physicians, have decades of experience in invasive and interventional cardiology. Using some of the lab’s latest tools and equipment, Dr. Wilmer was able to place stents within the blockages to open the artery, thereby avoiding invasive surgery.
“I can’t say enough about the Piedmont Fayette staff who cared for me,” said Butler. “They kept me calm and comfortable through each step of the process. Afterwards, Dr. Dhruva told me, if left untreated, I was headed towards a heart attack at the young age of 51.”
As part of her continued care, Butler was prescribed a healthy diet and exercise appropriate for her body and lifestyle. She is enrolled in the Cardiac Rehabilitation program at Piedmont Fayette Hospital, combining prescriptive exercise training and education while doctors keep a close eye on her overall cardiac health going forward.
Butler has shared her story and experience with everyone she knows including the people she works with. In her office at Dogwood Church, many of her co-workers have followed her example and are now taking better care of themselves with exercise and diet. By stocking their kitchen with healthy foods and snacks and taking walks together after lunch, Butler and her friends now enjoy including healthy living as part of the work environment.
“I am here today because of Dr. Dhruva and Dr. Wilmer,” said Bulter. “I encourage everyone to get screened and look after their heart. This is especially important for women who may often ignore the warning signs of heart trouble.”
For more information about Piedmont Fayette Hospital, visit piedmontfayette.org. For a free, seven-minute online heart disease risk assessment, visit piedmontheart.org.