Cardiovascular Institute has invested in new camera technology that makes nuclear stress testing to identify potential coronary heart blockages much more comfortable and quicker for patients. The new nuclear camera is the only one of its kind in the area and images can be obtained in less than half the time of more conventional cameras. The new camera is affixed to a chair allowing patients to sit-up or recline during their test, whichever is more comfortable, and is more accommodating for larger patients. In addition, patients are exposed to significantly less radiation. The diagnostic images produced by the new camera technology are much more clear and have significantly reduced the number of false positives which result in patients requiring additional procedures such as a cardiac catheterization in order to identify the potential heart problem. If your doctor has ordered a nuclear stress test for you, cardiologist Dr. Michael Morrow explains in this video what to expect and the advantages this new technology offers for cardiology patients over what is available elsewhere in the Panama City, Florida area.
Preventing the spread of Coronavirus has required many changes for local businesses and Cardiovascular Institute is no exception. Our goal is to continue to see our patients as scheduled, however we have a few new protocols we must follow to keep our patients and staff as healthy as possible.
First, if you are sick or have been exposed to a person with flu like symptoms within the last two weeks, please stay home and reschedule your visit. If you have been on a cruise or traveled from outside the US or from areas within the US that are experiencing an outbreak within the last two weeks, please reschedule your visit and self quarantine per CDC guidelines. If you have a smart phone or a computer with a web cam and microphone, you may be eligible to simply change your appointment to a video visit. Ask our receptionist about TeleVisits.
When visiting our office for an appointment or test, please practice social distancing from other patients and ask any guests that are with you to wait in the car so there is plenty of room for other patients. We will be screening patients at the door and taking temperatures. We will not be able to allow guests in the exam room with you except for truly exceptional circumstances. Don’t forget to cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, upper arm or a tissue. Avoid touching your face if possible and wash your hands with soap often.
Our staff will frequently sanitize office surfaces and work diligently to maintain a clean, healthy space for your cardiovascular care. Please help us help you by respecting the current CDC guidelines to prevent spreading contagious illness.
UPDATE: Patients who will be accessing their TeleVisit from a smart phone will receive a text a half an hour before their appointment with a link. Simply click on the link to access your appointment! Easy!
Established patients with Cardiovascular Institute can now request video appointments in lieu of in-office visits during this time of social distancing to prevent spreading illness. All you need is an email address and a smart phone, tablet, or a laptop/computer with a web camera and microphone and you can visit your cardiologist from the comforts of home.
Step 1: To schedule your “TeleVisit” or to change an already scheduled appointment to a TeleVisit, please call our office at (850)769-0329. If you do not already have an email on file with us, you will need to provide one in order to have your account web enabled.
Step 2: You will receive an email with instructions on how to access our patient portal and information about the Healow app for your smart phone. If your account was already web enabled, simply download the Healow app from your phone’s app store or log in from your computer at https://health.healow.com/CVINWF Your user name is the email you provided. Set up your account or if you’ve logged in previously and do not remember your password, click on “forgot password” to request a password reset to be sent to your email.
Step 3: When it’s time for your appointment, log-in to the app on your phone or to the website from your computer and click “Start TeleVisit”. If you have a home blood pressure monitor, please take your BP readings prior to your visit, you will be able to enter your numbers or any other vital signs such as temperature. Keep in mind that just like any other appointment, there are patients being seen both in office and on screen ahead of you that may cause a delay. However your provider will receive notifications that you are ready for your appointment and will join you on your screen as soon as possible.
Need more details? Never fear. Below are detailed instructions on exactly how to set up your account through the Healow app or through the website and how to activate your visit. We’re excited to launch this new tool to help our patients. We know that it’s new to you and it is new to us too, so we ask for your patience and understanding as we begin offering this new service.
PATIENT PORTAL ACCESS INSTRUCTIONS & TELEVISIT APPOINTMENT INSTRUCTIONS
Below are instructions for accessing the patient portal on your computer and also instructions for accessing it on your phone. Please keep in mind these are first time set up instructions and all of these steps will not have to be performed each time, only for the initial set up.
Iphone or Android Access:
- You will need to download the Healow app from the app store on your smartphone.
- Once the app is downloaded you will need to log in with your user name and password. The username will be the email address.
- If you do not know you password, select “forgot password” and a link will be sent to the email address on file for you to reset this.
- Once you have successfully logged in, you will select “Find My Doctor”. It will give you the option to search by physician or practice. Please select search by practice and put in Cardiovascular Institute and also Panama City for the city.
- Select Cardiovascular Institute at the top.
- You will have to agree to the terms and agreements.
- You will also have to allow microphone and camera access for TeleVisit appointments.
- It will ask you to verify your cell phone number so that it can send you a verification code.
- Once you have completed all of this (which is a one time set up), you should be at the dashboard. Once you are at the dashboard for the Healow app, you will see a wheel with options. The appointment option will be at the top. To see your appointments that you have, select appointment.
- Select the appropriate TeleVisit appointment and then select “Start TeleVisit” at the bottom.
- It will ask you for your vitals next so if you were able to check those at home, please enter them here. Once you are done select “submit vitals”.
- Next select “Start TeleVisit”. This will let the provider know that you are signed in, vitals entered and that you are ready for your visit.
Computer access for patient portal: If your computer is equipped with a microphone and a camera, you may use a computer to access the patient portal for your TeleVisit:
- Use the following link to access our patient portal: https://health.healow.com/CVINWF
- Use your email address for the log in name and then enter your password.
- If you cannot log in, you can click on “trouble logging in” and it will give you options if you have forgotten your user name or password.
- Once you are logged in, you will be at the dashboard and be able to see your TeleVisit appointments.
- Select “Join TeleVisit”
- Accept user agreement
- Download the plug-in
- Click on Run
- Click on the refresh browser button
- It will run a compatibility test to make sure it detects your camera and microphone
- It will give you the option to enter your vital signs.
- You will now be able to click on “Start TeleVisit” and it will let the provider know you are signed in and ready.
Dr. Nghia Hoang is offering a new treatment method for atrial fibrillation – cryoablation. This minimally invasive method uses extreme cold to create a frostbite scar in the area of the heart that is generating the abnormal heart rhythm. This frostbite scar blocks the abnormal electrical signals and keeps the heart in normal rhythm. Research has shown cryoablation to have improved outcomes over traditional radiofrequency ablation techniques in treating atrial fibrillation. Take a look at this story form WMBB News 13: New Technology Available at Bay Medical Center
Cardiovascular Institute is pleased to announce that cardiac electrophysiologist, Dr. Nghia Hoang, has joined our practice. Dr. Hoang is certified by the American Board of Osteopathic Internal Medicine in Cardiology and Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology and is a Certified Cardiac Device Specialist with the International Board of Heart Rhythm Examiners. Dr. Hoang received his D.O. at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. He completed his residency at Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown, PA and his Cardiovascular Fellowship at Deborah Heart & Lung Center in New Jersey. He completed his electrophysiology training at Drexel University College of Medicine as Chief Electrophysiology Fellow in 2012.
Dr. Hoang comes to us from Lehigh Valley Hospital in Pennsylvania where he also served as Assistant Professor of Medicine with the University of South Florida at the Pennsylvania branch campus of their medical school. Dr. Hoang brings a wealth of experience in cardiac ablation for atrial fibrillation and ventricular arrhythmia and the latest in cardiac rhythm device technology. In addition, he received 5-star ratings from his many patients in Pennsylvania. Dr. Hoang enjoys spending any free time with his wife and two children and the whole family is looking forward to warmer winters, the coastal lifestyle, and getting to know their new community.
Dr. Joe Trantham of Cardiovascular Institute spoke with WMBB News 13 during Heart Month (February) about how some use heart attack and cardiac arrest interchangeably when they are actually two very different conditions. However in both cases, you should call 911 immediately. To learn the difference, and the symptoms, take a look at this report from Panama City, Florida’s ABC affiliate WMBB: http://www.mypanhandle.com/news/cardiac-arrest-vs-heart-attack-the-important-difference/974318831
Leslie Kolovich never imagined she could be at risk for a major heart attack. She was just 52, a non-smoker, lived an active lifestyle and had a healthy diet. She dismissed some of the warning signs as “just getting older” and “stress”. Watch as Leslie shares her story of how she nearly died and what she has learned since.
Interventional cardiologists Dr. Amir Haghighat and Dr. Samir Patel of Cardiovascular Institute worked jointly with local cardiothoracic surgeons and Bay Medical team members to launch a new valve program which offers minimally invasive aortic valve replacement (TAVR). The first cases at Bay Medical were performed in February 2017. The official press release from Bay Medical Sacred Heart is below:
Minimally invasive heart valve replacement now offered at Bay Medical Sacred Heart
For Immediate Release May 8, 2017
PANAMA CITY, Fla. – The area’s first transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) procedures were recently performed at Bay Medical Sacred Heart by a team of cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons. TAVR is a minimally invasive, life-saving procedure for patients with aortic stenosis who are considered too high risk for traditional open heart surgery.
Aortic stenosis affects the aortic valve. In late stages of the disease, the valve does not properly open and close, causing the heart to work harder to push blood through the calcified aortic valve. Eventually, the heart weakens, increasing the patient’s risk of heart failure and death.
One of the first patients to undergo the procedure, Morris Denman, said that his long-time cardiologist, Dr. Amir Haghighat, told him that his aortic valve would only keep getting worse. The 74-year-old semi-retired pastor said, “Over time as it started to happen, I realized it was not a good quality of life.”
When Denman was told he wasn’t the most ideal candidate for an invasive open-heart valve replacement procedure, Denman decided to educate himself on the TAVR procedure Bay Medical Sacred Heart was bringing to the Panhandle. Eager for a better quality of life, Denman became one of the first patients to undergo the surgery on March 15 with cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Greg England and interventional cardiologist Dr. Haghighat as co-surgeons.
The procedure is performed through a small incision in the femoral (groin) artery. A catheter is inserted to replace the failing valve, without the need for major open surgery. The patients typically spend only two to four days in the hospital.
Only one week after having his heart valve replaced, Denman was not only feeling better, he was back in the pulpit. “I am doing not just what I was doing before, but more,” he said.
Dr. Haghighat said, “Bay Medical has made an investment in continuing to provide local patients with the best heart care available. All of the physicians and staff involved with the TAVR team have been so pleased to be able to help our patients here, without the need to travel out of town to university centers. Patients who have had the procedure have been grateful to receive treatment and recover close to home where they have family support.”
Dr. England said, “Our success is a reflection of the hard work and dedication of the folks on our team. We are excited to have this option for our patients here at Bay Medical Sacred Heart. In the past there wasn’t a lot we could do for patients like Mr. Denman because there was just too much risk with traditional open surgery. But with this new technology, we can really make a difference in their quality of life.”
Nancy Vandenberg also had the procedure in late February. The 89-year-old has had an ongoing heart condition and had two stents placed over the years. Late last year her cardiologist, Dr. Michael Morrow, identified a defective aortic valve.
She weighed her options: traditional open-heart surgery or this new TAVR procedure. She also considered going out of town but in the end opted to stay and have the procedure at Bay Medical Sacred Heart.
“I didn’t want to go out of town at my age and I didn’t want to travel for appointments,” said Vandenberg. “When I considered the alternative of open-heart surgery and a long recovery, going into a rehab center for three or four weeks, the choice was easy. I didn’t feel at my age I could go through open heart surgery.
“After the procedure I was up the next two days and went home. I feel better than I have in a long time. This new procedure is just miraculous and so are the doctors.”
Why is salt bad for your heart?
Dr. Evans: Our bodies need a little salt for optimal health, however the typical American diet can contain two or three times the amount needed. Too much salt causes the body to retain water. This increase in fluid in the body increases blood pressure which puts a strain on blood vessels, the heart and kidneys. As a result, people with high blood pressure have an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
Does everyone need to monitor their salt intake?
Dr. Evans: It’s safe to say that everyone eating an American diet could benefit from paying attention to and reducing their salt intake. Most people have no idea how much salt they consume. People assume that if they don’t use their salt shaker much, they aren’t eating much salt. But salt / sodium is already present in many of the foods we eat. Especially processed foods. It is important to pay attention to your salt intake if you have high blood pressure, and if you have heart failure, too much sodium and the accompanying fluid retention can be very dangerous.
Dr. Evans: The Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day, however for most adults, especially seniors, no more than 1,500 milligrams is a better guideline. Our blood pressure tends to increase as we age, so lowering salt intake can help to keep it in check. To give you an idea, one teaspoon of salt is 2,300 mg of sodium. In packaged foods, the amount of sodium is on the nutrition label, but pay close attention to the serving size. Let’s say that a can of soup has 800 mgs of sodium per serving, but a serving is only 1/2 a cup. To be realistic, you are likely to eat one whole cup of soup if not more and then you’ve already exceeded your recommended daily sodium intake. It’s just that easy to take in too much salt if you’re not paying attention.
How can I reduce salt if it’s already in the food I eat?
Dr. Evans: Ideally, eating more fresh foods that are prepared at home rather than packaged foods can make a big difference not just in salt consumption but in your overall health. And when cooking at home, use more herbs and spices for flavor and less salt. For recipes and meal plans, there are a lot of free resources you can find online by looking up the DASH Diet. When buying packaged foods, read the labels and look for lower sodium alternatives. It really doesn’t take long for your tastes to adjust to less salt and you’ll soon find that some foods taste way too salty. Certain foods are known for containing a lot of salt, and unfortunately, they are American favorites: pizza, sandwiches, soup, breads and baked goods, cold cuts, poultry, cheese, and of course condiments and sauces. People tend to ignore the nutritional labels on condiments, but soy sauce or barbeque sauce, for example, can really blow up your daily sodium intake. There are ways to make some of these salty favorites less salty and more healthy like getting the thin crust pizza with more vegetables, half the cheese and an uncured meat instead of pepperoni. However at the very least, limit your portions of salty foods.
If I limit my salt intake will my blood pressure be normal?
Cutting back on salt is one of the easiest things you can do to help your blood pressure, but it is not a cure all. There can be other causes of high blood pressure such as family history, poor diet, lack of exercise, being overweight, smoking, and excess alcohol consumption. Limiting salt intake should be part of an overall heart healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, a heart healthy diet, and maintaining a healthy weight. High blood pressure, much like high cholesterol, is a silent risk factor of heart disease, so having your blood pressure and cholesterol checked regularly can help you and your doctor find lifestyle modifications, or medications if needed, to reduce your risks for cardiovascular disease.
A study of approximately 9,500 middle-age adults found that nearly half of the heart attacks that occurred during the study period were “silent”. The patients were not aware they had a heart attack and did not seek medical attention however, their electrocardiogram (ECG) screening during a regular follow-up appointment showed that a heart attack had occurred.
The study, Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC), analyzed the causes and outcomes of atherosclerosis – hardening of the arteries. Over an average of nine years after the start of the study, 317 participants had silent heart attacks while 386 had heart attacks with clinical symptoms.
Amir Haghighat, M.D., interventional cardiologist at the Cardiovascular Institute in Panama City, clarifies that “Silent does not necessarily mean a total lack of symptoms. More likely, it’s that the symptoms were subtle or not recognized as a heart problem.” Frequently, television and movies depict a heart attack as a dramatic event with crushing chest pain. “Chest pain is a common symptom, however everyone experiences heart symptoms differently.” says Dr. Haghighat. “For some, it may be shortness of breath, pain in their left arm, in their neck or jaw, or even in the shoulder blades, and it may not be as dramatic as you think.”
“The outcome of a silent heart attack is as bad as a heart attack that is recognized while it is happening,” said Elsayed Z. Soliman, M.D., MSc., M.S., study senior author and director of the epidemiological cardiology research center at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Winston-Salem, North Carolina. “And because patients don’t know they have had a silent heart attack, they may not receive the treatment they need to prevent another one.”
Dr. Haghighat stresses that these study results are further proof that patients should see their primary care providers regularly and discuss any unusual symptoms they may be experiencing. “We all know when we’re feeling something different in our bodies and it’s important to discuss it with a healthcare provider,” says Dr. Haghighat. “Take note of when your symptoms occur, do they happen with exertion or at rest? Don’t ignore symptoms just because they come and go. Your primary doctor may be able to identify the issue with basic screenings and prescribe preventative measures. Or in the case of a “silent” heart attack, coordinate treatment with a cardiologist that can lower your risk of having additional heart attacks.”
After following participants in the ARIC study for 20 years, researchers found that having a silent heart attack increased the chances of dying from heart disease by three times. As a result, silent heart attacks should be treated just as aggressively, once discovered, as a heart attack with recognizable symptoms. “For both kinds of heart attacks,” says Dr. Haghighat, “the risk factors and the treatment are the same. Even though a patient may not have experienced a scary heart event in an ER, they still need to be proactive and make lifestyle changes to reduce their risk such as quitting smoking, losing excess weight, eating healthy and getting regular exercise.”