Reports of heart attacks have declined by 40 percent worldwide during the COVID-19 pandemic, a trend that worries Dr. Lalit Vadlamani, Cardiovascular Interventionist at the new Heart & Vascular Center of Watauga Medical Center. But that doesn’t mean heart attacks themselves are not happening.
Says Vadlamani, “Heart attacks are not elective. They either happen or they don’t. There is no choice, which is why this statistic about a worldwide decline is so surprisingly startling. One would think that heart attacks would be on the rise, with all of this stress and anxiety we are currently experiencing in our daily lives.”
According to Vadlamani, chronic total obstruction (CTO) is a particularly concerning type of heart attack, often called a widow-maker. “With this type of heart attack there is a blockage of the left anterior descending artery. If left untreated, it could lead to death, or serious damage to the heart,” he said.
Seeking cardiac care is safe
Vadlamani continues, “The chances that you will die of a heart attack are actually much higher than dying from COVID-19. I travel extensively for my job, and hospitals nationwide have taken the necessary precautions to minimize the risk of patients being infected from COVID. The scenario has changed quite a bit, and the Emergency Departments no longer look the way they did in the past when they were crowded with sick people coughing and sneezing.
Remember that heart disease is still the number one cause of death in the U.S., and that risk of a full-blown heart attack outweighs the risk of contracting COVID-19 at the hospital. In fact, in Dr. Vadlamani’s opinion, the chances of contracting COVID from someone at the grocery store are probably higher than at the hospital.
He concludes, “Both COVID-19 and heart disease share multiple symptoms, such as shortness of breath and fatigue, and pain that radiates to other areas (such as the jaw, back or down the arm.) So please do not ignore any of these symptoms, as time is of the essence with any heart-related issue. You must act quickly and call 9-1-1 if you are unable to get yourself to the emergency room. The longer you wait or postpone it, the worse your outcome will be.”
Call the Heart & Vascular Center of Watauga Medical Center at (828) 264-9664 or request an appointment online.
After three years of planning and a year of construction, Cannon Memorial Hospital’s new Medical Surgical Unit is officially open. Hospital staff moved patients into the beautiful healing space on Thursday, June 25th.
The ARHS-funded renovations to create the 8-bed acute care unit Cannon Memorial Hospital began on June 4, 2019. The spacious, family-friendly rooms allow for family members to comfortably stay with loved ones overnight. Rooms are also equipped with the latest technology which enable the medical care team to access the patient’s medical records and discuss care plans with the patient and their family.
Upon completion of phase one, Cannon Memorial Hospital immediately began construction on phase two – a 27-bed Behavioral Health Unit – funded by a $6.5 million grant from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services (NCDHHS).
Cannon Hospital’s existing 10-bed inpatient behavioral health unit can accommodate only a fraction of the referrals the facility receives.
The funding for the grant originated from the Dorothea Dix Hospital Property Fund, which was created by the North Carolina General Assembly from the sale of the Dorothea Dix Hospital in 2015. The Dorothea Dix Hospital Property Fund was established as a part of NCDHHS’s plan to expand the number of beds that provide crisis stabilization and inpatient behavioral healthcare. The plan calls for 150 new behavioral health inpatient beds across the state. The new behavioral health unit is expected to be complete in the fall of 2021, according to Cannon Memorial Hospital President, Carmen Lacey.
For more information about behavioral health services, visit https://apprhs.org/behavioralhealth/.
The Stroke Center of Watauga Medical Center was recently recognized by the American Heart Association’s Get with the Guidelines® program and awarded the Silver Plus and Target: Stroke Elite Honor Roll quality designations for 2019.
A stroke or “brain attack” occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery or a blood vessel breaks, interrupting blood flow to an area of the brain. Brain cells begin to die and brain damage occurs. Abilities controlled by that area of the brain are lost, i.e. speech, movement and memory. How a stroke patient is affected depends on where the stroke occurs in the brain and how much the brain is damaged.
Time is of the essence in treating stroke patients, and the most important factor in successful treatment is early intervention. Watauga Medical Center Emergency Department staff are trained to recognize the signs of stroke and spring to action immediately to implement stroke treatment protocols.
The acronym BE FAST can help people recognize the signs of stroke and quickly get the help needed.
• Balance: Sudden loss of balance and coordination
• Eyes: Sudden trouble seeing, or blurred vision in one or both eyes
• Face: One side of the face droops or is numb
• Arm: Sudden weakness or numbness of any arm or leg
• Speech: Sudden Confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech
• Time: Call 911 immediately, and note the time symptoms started
Through the Telestroke program, patients have 24/7 access to acute stroke experts via two-way real time video consultation. Thanks to this network, emergency room physicians are able to receive on demand consultation to help diagnose strokes, develop care plans, and take action if necessary.
Target: Stroke Elite Honor Roll quality designation from the American Heart Association certifies that stroke patients receive Intravenous Thrombolytic Therapy within 60 minutes of arriving at the hospital – 30% quicker than the national average.
In order to receive the Silver Plus quality award, Watauga Medical Center met or exceeded 15 criteria set forth by the American Health Association covering early and thorough treatment, patient education, follow-up treatment and more.
The Stroke Center at Watauga Medical Center is also certified by The Joint Commission for Primary Stroke Centers as an Advanced Primary Stroke Center following a detailed, on-site re-certification review of the hospital in March 2019. The certification is based on the recommendations for primary stroke centers published by the Brain Attack Coalition and the American Stroke Association’s statements/guidelines for stroke care.
For more information about stroke services at Appalachian Regional Healthcare system, visit apprhs.org/stroke.