In the last year, Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital’s Cardiovascular Services department has added major open-heart surgery and post-operative rehabilitation, and now offers heart patients a complete range of treatment here in the Santa Clarita Valley.
The department’s doctors, nurses and staff will host an open house at the hospital’s Valencia campus to introduce the upgraded services to members of our community on Thursday, Feb. 28, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., wrapping up Henry Mayo’s National Health Month-related events for February.
For local heart patients – and potential heart patients – who previously had to head into the San Fernando Valley or beyond to find treatment for major heart attacks, the expansion and availability of critical services much closer to home is big news.
“Up until a year ago, just last summer, we didn’t have the ability to treat a lot of various heart conditions,” said Tamar Avakian, coordinator for Henry Mayo’s cardiovascular program, talking with AM 1220 KHTS’s Jason Endicott during a recent visit to the station.
“We had a lot of tools and diagnostic capabilities, imaging studies, various things where disease conditions could be identified, but for certain types of conditions, especially heart attacks and what is called coronary artery disease, meaning blockage in the arteries, we didn’t have the capabilities to do those treatments,” Avakian said.
“So, people would have to be transferred out of the Santa Clarita Valley and have treatment elsewhere,” she said. “And so last summer, we got licensing for what we refer to as, in short, PCI. It’s ‘percutaneous coronary intervention,’ which is a fancy medical way of saying ‘opening up blockages in the artery by procedure,’ commonly known as angioplasty and stents, and also open heart surgery.”
State licensing for Henry Mayo’s new cardiac rehabilitation service is the most recent advancement for the department, which Avakian says can now provide heart treatment “from A to Z.”
Cardiac rehab, she said, “is what happens after people, if they have a heart attack or a cardiac procedure, open heart surgery, that’s the final phase where they get monitored, exercise training, a lot of education and how to help make lifestyle adjustments long-term for their health.”
As Henry Mayo has expanded its cardiovascular services, the hospital has added to the department’s staff.
“There are a couple dozen staff,” Avakian said. “We have a great team of physicians, cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons, great nursing staff, technologists, various clinical coordinators – so we’ve really grown and expanded our team over the past year as the program itself has grown. And we’ve really recruited a lot of top-level talent…a lot of people with great experience from various places that are bringing it here to their home, to the valley. So, it’s been an exciting time.”
Vakian said health education, and especially In February, heart health education, is a key element in the hospital’s community outreach through events like the open house, where staff members will answer visitors’ questions and provide screenings and other useful information.
“One of the biggest things we want people to know are the signs and symptoms of a heart attack,” she said. “Chest pain is the No. 1 most common symptom of a heart attack, both in men and in women. But shortness of breath would probably be the second most common symptom. Sometimes you can also have some associated symptoms of a little bit of nausea, maybe a cold sweat that comes over you, maybe sometimes even vomiting.”
Avakian got even more specific about the tell-tale chest pain. “It’s often described as a sense of pressure or heaviness. People say, ‘I feel like I have something sitting on my chest.’ And sometimes that pain also can radiate and travel, maybe into one or both arms, maybe up to the jaw or the neck.”
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What feels like really intense indigestion is another major symptom, for both men and women.
“I want to send that note out especially to men because a lot of men will say, ‘Oh, I just have heartburn, it’s that pizza sauce,’ or whatever, and will play it off,” Avakian said. “In fact, we had a patient just this morning who came in with a heart attack and was holding it off. He was having symptoms on and off for several days, and he said, ‘Oh, it’s just bad heartburn; it’ll go away.’ And so sometimes it can feel like that, but it’s somewhat different.
“Women can also present a little bit unusually or atypically.” she said. “They may not have chest pain. Sometimes it might just be shortness of breath, (which) is more common in women, or sometimes just a general feeling of weakness and a very strange sense of fatigue that comes over them. Women tend to present atypically. Earlier this month we had [Go Red] Day for women, so that’s another thing we really try to have women and also elderly understand.”
An RSVP is required to attend the cardiovascular department’s open house; call 661-200-1306.
Henry Mayo is located at 23845 McBean Parkway, Valencia 91355. For more information, visit www.henrymayo.com or call the aforementioned number.
•Source: Health and Beauty