Celebrate American Heart Month

Members of Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center’s cardiac team

February is American Heart Month, a great time to think about how you are caring for your heart. The heart is a muscle, and movement strengthens the heart the same way exercise strengthens muscles in other parts of your body. A strong heart does a better job of pumping blood through the body, and that helps keep blood pressure under control.

Move More for Heart Health

The American Heart Association recommends about 30 minutes of brisk exercise four or five times a week. Before you think that’s easier said than done, consider all the little ways you can move more on any given day. Just 10 minutes of movement at a time can make a difference in the way you feel and in your ability to fight heart disease:

• Park the car farther away from the door.

• Take the stairs instead of the elevator.

• Get up and walk the halls once an hour.

• Go talk to your coworkers instead of emailing them.

Check into exercise classes offered in your community, or consider a fitness club like Covenant Health’s Fort Sanders Health and Fitness Center. Keep moving and you’ll be on your way to a healthier heart in no time.

Comprehensive Heart Care at Fort Sanders Regional

When you have a problem with your heart, knowing where to go is an important first step. Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center’s award-winning Heart Center offers comprehensive cardiovascular services that span the continuum of heart care. From testing to cardiac rehab, our advanced diagnostics, interventional technologies, cardiovascular surgeries and clinical trials are tailored to meet your cardiac needs. Cardiac services offered at Fort Sanders Regional include:

• Cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons

• Cardiac diagnostics

• Digital catheterization lab

• Hybrid operating room

• Cardiac specialty unit

• Cardiothoracic surgical unit

• Telemetry control services

• Cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation

Advanced Cardiac Diagnostics

You may have heard the phrase “time is muscle,” which refers to heart attack survivability. During a heart attack, blood flow does not reach heart tissue and the muscle can die. The faster someone can receive medical care during a heart attack, the better their chances for recovery. That is why a fast, accurate diagnosis of a heart condition is so important. At Fort Sanders Regional, we use tools like an advanced CT scanner, echocardiography and more to quickly diagnose a heart attack and cardiac conditions.

Award-Winning Cardiac Care

The American Heart Association created the Mission: Lifeline® program to support heart attack care following protocols from the most recent evidence-based treatment guidelines. The goal of this initiative is prompt treatment for heart attacks, continuing through hospital treatment and discharge.

Fort Sanders Regional received the 2022 Mission: Lifeline® Gold Plus Receiving Quality Achievement Award for timely treatment of heart attack patients through emergency procedures to re-establish blood flow to blocked arteries. In addition, the hospital received the 2022 Mission: Lifeline® NSTEMI Gold Quality Achievement Award for implementing specific quality improvement measures for the treatment of patients who suffer heart attacks.

The designations support Fort Sanders Regional’s Heart Center’s reputation for comprehensive cardiovascular services and treating patients with some of the most complex cardiac issues in the region.

“It is an honor for Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center to be recognized by the American Heart Association for outstanding cardiac care,” Keith Altshuler, president and chief administrative officer, said. “Our devoted team has worked tirelessly to earn this designation year after year, and they are a testament to the team’s dedication to excellence in patient care.”

Expert Help for Your Heart

After a heart attack or other cardiac event, you might not know what comes next. Your doctor may tell you it’s time to go to cardiac rehab. Cardiac rehabilitation is an important part of recovery following a heart attack or heart problem. Not only can it help you recover from a cardiac event, it can protect against future problems.

“Cardiac rehab can reduce your chance of a second heart event by 47 percent within one year,” said Brenda Leuthold, cardiac rehab manager at Fort Sanders Regional. That’s a statistic compiled from research by all facilities accredited by the AACVPR (American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation). Not all rehab centers are accredited like Fort Sanders Regional’s cardiac rehab program. There are certain qualifications for accreditation, so it is prestigious.

In addition to preventing future heart problems and even death, cardiac rehab benefits include:

• Strengthening your heart and body after a heart attack

• Relieving symptoms of heart problems, such as chest pain

• Building healthier exercise and nutrition habits

• Reducing stress

• Helping prevent and lessen depression

The goal of cardiac rehab is to form habits that will make and keep you healthy. Our cardiac rehab program offers an individualized plan of monitored exercise and education. Supervised by a team of exercise physiologists, registered nurses and registered dietitians, cardiac rehab is a 12-week, 36-session program of physical activity and education about healthy living. A physician’s referral is required, so if you’ve experienced a cardiac event and your doctor hasn’t talked with you about a cardiac rehabilitation program, be sure to ask about it.

Recovering from a heart attack means changing your life in positive ways: not smoking, lowering cholesterol, controlling blood pressure, staying active and forming partnerships with health professionals. Those steps don’t just reduce your risk and fear of another heart attack. They also make life healthier and more fun.

Talk to your doctor about a referral to Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Outpatient Program or call 865-331-1250.



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