A Brief Look at Heart Failure

Eric Cravey, The Clay Today

Nearly 5.7 million people in the U.S. live with heart failure and approximately 550,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. Despite such large numbers, which sound daunting, cardiologists say the disease that claims 287,000 Americans each year can be prevented.

“You have to take charge of your health,” said Simone Nader, M.D., F.A.C.C., a cardiologist who serves patients at Baptist Clay on Fleming Island.

“Know your numbers –your cholesterol, your blood pressure and get a physical every year. Take charge.”

Nader recommends getting an annual physical as just one aspect of preventing heart disease. She said heart disease can be held at bay by having a sensible diet that is low in saturated fat and rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. She also recommends having a consistent exercise regimen that includes at least a half hour of cardiovascular work, five days a week. Other things that will help prevent heart disease are avoiding tobacco products and smoking, maintaining a healthy weight and getting a good night’s sleep every night.

“The main thing to think about are the risk factors,” Nader said. “If a person has three of more of the risk factors, their chance of getting heart disease increases tremendously.”

She said patients need to know their family health history and whether either parent had heart disease. But then, the details enter into the picture. Which of the two types of heart disease did your parents have – systolic or diastolic?

“In systolic, the heart muscle becomes weak, like a balloon that cannot squeeze,” said Omar Dajani, M.D., who is a cardiologist at St. Vincent’s Clay County. “In diastolic, the heart muscle becomes stiff, or what is called noncompliant. When it’s stiff, it doesn’t expand as much.”

Dajani said diastolic heart disease is more often associated with a long history of high blood pressure or hypertension, whereas, in systolic heart disease, there are multiple causes.

“One is blockage, coronary artery disease, heart valve problems – either narrowed or basically leaking – but another is idiopathic, which means, for no reason, the heart gets ill after viral illness of severe emotional trauma,” Dajani said.

And, like most diseases, the treatment depends on the cause. Dajani characterizes heart disease as being very unique to each person – no two cases are ever alike.

“It’s a very multifactorial type of disease,” Dajani said. “There is not just one type of procedure or treatment to fix it.”

He said blockage or heart valve problems are typically corrected with surgery, but idiopathic heart disease can only be treated with a transplant. Either way, he said heart disease is one of the most costly diseases in the U.S.

Heart disease is very common,” Dajani said. “It’s probably one of the most common reasons for people coming to the emergency room. It’s a very expensive disease for this country.”

Like Nader, Dajani agrees that prevention is within our reach. He said knowing the risk factors can open up a whole world of awareness and prevent a possible future problem.

“The best treatment is preventive treatment,” Dajani said. “We can reduce the risk by identifying the risk factors for it, such as blood pressure control – which usually doesn’t have symptoms unless it is elevated – diet and exercise and early detection of the problem. There are some medicines that can improve the heart muscle, but once the muscle is damaged, the only thing you can do is increase the medications in dosage.”

Nader suggests getting a baseline cardio exam at age 50, especially if your parents had a history of heart failure. Otherwise, your first cardio check-up should come at age 55.

St. Vincent’s HealthCare gains national recognition

Jacksonville’s St. Vincent‘s HealthCare has been named a “Top 150 Great Places to Work in Healthcare” by Becker’s Hospital Review.

Becker’s looks at benefits, workplace culture, professional development opportunities and recognition for workplace excellence to compile the top health centers in the United States.

Leadership programs within St. Vincent‘s show the investment it’s making in its employees, VP of Human Resources Jan Lipsky said.

“Every associate plays a role and deserves recognition for making St. Vincent’s HealthCare a great place to work,” said Moody Chisholm, CEO of St. Vincent’s HealthCare.


Possible St. Vincent’s expansion would bring jobs

By Stephanie Brown

It’s an expansion that could bring new healthcare access and an economic boost.

“Hospitals are kind of economic engines of their community,” says St. Vincent’s Medical Center Clay County President Blain Claypool.

Although the hospital opened only about six months ago, Claypool says they’re in the process of designing an expansion which would include maternity services and more acute care beds.  While they are still new, Claypool says it comes as no surprise to be planning an expansion at this stage.

“We knew that almost half of the residents of Clay County left the county for their care,” he says.

The expansion could also bring an estimated 175 jobs.

Claypool says they’re seeking approval now to start planning and design. If all goes well, he says we could see the changes by the end of next year.


St. Vincent’s Clay County hospital looking to expand, build maternity ward

St. Vincent’s Clay County hospital is waiting on approval from its parent company for a $24 million capital expansion project. Approval is expected within the next couple of weeks, hospital administrators said today.

The expansion would come after demand at the hospital has exceeded administrators’ estimates in the nine months it has been open.

If given the green light, St. Vincent’s Medical Center of Clay County would increase its 64 in-patient beds by another 32 to 36 beds, expand its emergency room and build a three-story patient tower that would house a new maternity ward.

The second phase of the project would add 32 to 36 beds, build two more floors in the patient tower and double the number of operating rooms from six to 12. When completed, St. Vincent’s would add 180 staff members to the 363 it already employs at its Middleburg campus.

“We had planned to do this over the next two to five years,” said Blain Claypool, president of St. Vincent’s Clay County. “Instead, I went ahead and applied [to Ascension’s board of directors] in December [2013] to get in under the end-of-the-year cutoff.”

Ascension Health, the nonprofit company that operates St. Vincent’s and a network of other hospitals, makes decisions on capital projects at the end of each calendar year.

Since the full-service hospital opened in Clay County last September, demand has exceeded even administrators’ own estimates — especially of the number of beds it needs.

“At certain times of the day, we can be completely filled,” Claypool said.

On Wednesday, Claypool told the Business Journal he was awaiting word from Ascension, which would cover a portion of the expansion, with St. Vincent’s Clay County kicking in the rest. After contracts are awarded, construction could begin shortly, and the new areas of the hospital potentially operational by the facility’s second anniversary in fall 2015.

“We would effectively be doubling within two years,” Claypool said