Frankfort cardiovascular care

At Frankfort Regional Medical Center, we're committed to providing excellent cardiovascular care. From advice on preventing heart disease to excellence in diagnosis, treatment and aftercare, the board-certified physicians at Frankfort Regional Medical Center offer high-level expertise and patient-focused cardiovascular care, close to home. 

As an accredited chest pain center recognized by the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care (SCPC), Frankfort Regional Medical Center meets or exceeds quality-of-care measures based on improving the process for the care of acute coronary syndrome (ACS) patients. This means our medical staff has the best tools, advanced technology and level of expertise to care for a wide range of needs, from emergent conditions like heart attacks and chest pain to diagnostic and preventive care.

Contact us

To book an appointment, please call (502) 875-9885. Remember, it is always better to be safe than sorry. If you feel it could be an emergency, call 911 immediately.

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Angioplasty

When a person experiences chest pain or heart attack they need to get the right medical treatment fast. With our new interventional cardiology program, we're now able to provide treatment for chest pain (angina) or heart attack by offering angioplasty with or without stent placement.

Angioplasty is a non-surgical treatment designed to open clogged arteries. A balloon angioplasty (also called PTCA, or percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty) is a procedure where the area of the vessel blockage is widened with the use of a special balloon.

A coronary stent is a small, expandable mesh, metal tube. This acts as a type of scaffolding and holds the artery open and improves the blood flow. Stents come in a variety of sizes, strengths and textures and are frequently inserted after a balloon angioplasty. Also used are drug-eluting stents. These differ from regular stents in that they are coated with medications which decrease the potential for re-blockage of the artery.

Before the procedure

Your doctor will be able to tell you how long you may expect to be in the hospital. Usually patients stay for a day or two. Here are some general guidelines:

  • You may get specific instructions about the food you can have. Generally, you may not have anything to eat or drink for six to eight hours before the procedure.
  • You may be asked to start taking certain medications.
  • Make arrangements for someone to drive you to and from the hospital.
  • Pack a small bag for your hospital stay including a robe, pajamas, slippers and toiletries.
  • Bring a list of all medications you are currently taking, including exact names, frequency and dosages. Include any herbs and over-the-counter medications such as aspirin.
  • Do not bring valuables or money to the hospital.
  • You may wear your dentures, hearing aids or glasses.
  • Be sure to let your doctor know if you have any allergies to drugs or if you have a history of bleeding problems. Be sure to tell your nurse or doctor if you are allergic to iodine, shellfish or contrast.
  • The nurse will get a medical history and discuss your medications with you.
  • The catheterization lab rad tech will clean and shave the area where the catheter will be inserted.
  • An IV will be put in your arm or hand to administer fluids and medications.
  • You may be given medications to relax you.

In addition to an examination of your medical history, an EKG, blood tests and a chest x-ray are usually done before angioplasty or stenting.

During an angioplasty

The procedure is done in our catheterization lab. The doctor inserts a thin, flexible tube called a catheter through the sheath. The catheter is then threaded gently through the artery toward your heart.

A fluid called contrast is injected and allows the doctor to view your coronary arteries. Blood-pressure recordings may be made in the various chambers of your heart, and valve function can be examined. Pictures will be taken with specialized cameras. When the blockage is located, a balloon catheter is placed in the narrowed artery and slowly inflated to press fatty deposits against the artery walls. This allows the blood to flow more freely to the heart muscle.

After an angioplasty

You will go to a room (most likely the ICU) with EKG monitoring after your angioplasty. You will be asked to drink plenty of fluids to help flush the contrast out of your system, and to remain lying down for several hours. A collagen closure device may be placed at the insertion site, where it works as a plug and prevents bleeding. If the procedure was performed radially through the wrist, you will have a band on your wrist to control bleeding so it will not be necessary to remain lying down.

Your doctor will talk to you about healing at the insertion site, the possibility of your symptoms returning, medications and restrictions and changes in daily habits to reduce the risk of more arteries narrowing. Hearts can get stronger after a heart attack, says Marty Denny, MD, from Frankfort Regional Medical Center. He lists taking your medication and cardiac rehabilitation as two things that help a lot.

Are there any potential complications?

There can be some risk involved with certain diagnostic procedures. Please ask your doctor to discuss the risks and benefits so that you are fully informed. Call your doctor or seek medical treatment if:

  • The insertion site begins to bleed.
  • You feel chest pain or discomfort.
  • Your arm or leg feels numb or cold.
  • The bruising or swelling gets worse or increases.
  • You have a fever of 101ºF or more.
  • You see signs of infection (redness, oozing, hot to the touch) at the insertion site.
  • You see any other unusual symptoms.

Stent insertion

Along with angioplasty, the procedure takes place in a catheterization laboratory in the hospital. The balloon angioplasty procedure is usually performed first and then the stent is inserted. The stent is placed on another balloon catheter and guided to the area of blockage. The stent is then expanded in the artery by the inflation of the balloon, which usually takes anywhere from several seconds to a few minutes. The stent will adhere to the wall of the artery, and will be left in place to become part of your artery.

After stent insertion

  • You will probably go to the ICU and be asked to lie still with your legs straight.
  • You will remain connected to a heart monitor.
  • The nurse will be checking the catheter insertion site and taking your blood pressure frequently.
  • You will most likely still have the IV in for fluids and medications.

Watch Marty Denny, MD, from Frankfort Regional Medical Center discuss the role of a guide wire and how a stent placement is performed.

Within about a month, a thin layer of the artery’s inner lining cells will cover the stent. With stents, you do not need to worry about mechanical medical devices or metal detectors, as they won’t affect you. With drug eluting stents, this process may take up to a year. This is why it is important for you to take an anti-platelet drug (like Plavix) prescribed by your physician.

Are there any potential complications?

There can be some risk involved in this procedure, such as damage to the vessel when the stent is implanted, blood clots or restenosis. Restenosis occurs when the artery builds up with plaque again in the stent, or at one end of the stent. Usually your doctor will prescribe an anti-platelet medication after the stent is inserted to prevent blood clots from forming. Call your doctor or seek medical treatment if:

  • The insertion site bleeds.
  • You feel chest pain or discomfort.
  • Your arm or leg feels numb or cold.
  • The bruising or swelling gets worse or increases.
  • You have a fever, or signs of infection (redness or oozing) at the insertion site.
  • You have any other unusual symptoms.

Cardiac catheterization lab

The cardiac catheterization lab at Frankfort Regional Medical Center provides diagnostic and therapeutic services by cardiologists that excel in their field. We have the capacity and support to treat patients 24/7 who are experiencing chest pain or complications due to coronary artery disease. It is generally ordered when symptoms, like chest pain, could mean heart problems and a cardiac catheterization is often done on an emergency basis.

The cardiac catheterization lab team of critical care specialists includes highly-experienced interventional cardiologists, cardiologists, interventional radiologists, licensed radiologic technologists, registered nurses and registered cardiovascular technicians. Also called coronary angiography, coronary arteriography or coronary angiogram, these procedures are done to detect problems with the heart and its blood supply.
Cardiac catheterization helps our doctors to:

  • Identify narrowed or clogged arteries of the heart
  • Measure blood pressure within the heart
  • Evaluate how well the heart valves function
  • Determine how well the four chambers of the heart function
  • Check for congenital heart defects
  • Evaluate an enlarged heart
  • Decide on an appropriate treatment

Heart attack risks

The image is a familiar one—a man hunched over, clutching his chest in pain. It’s the universal symbol for a heart attack. This chest pain, along with shortness of breath and pain radiating down the arm, are often considered the standard symptoms of a major cardiac event. Heart problems don’t always begin in the heart. Many times your heart’s health is slowly compromised by conditions like diabetes, obesity or chronic stress.

Watch Marty Denny, MD, from Frankfort Regional Medical Center discuss additional symptoms associated with that pain.

There are more subtle symptoms that could also signal heart disease: flu, migraines and sleep apnea also can endanger your heart.

Five lesser-known signs and symptoms of heart disease

Sleep apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea, which almost always causes loud snoring, isn’t just a noisy habit that can keep your partner up at night, according to cardiologist Suman Kuppahally, MD. Snoring, whether it’s moderate or severe, can damage your heart as you struggle to breathe while sleeping.

Kuppahally mentions that sleep apnea causes a drop in oxygen in the blood multiple times during the night, inducing stress to the body. This can lead to cardiovascular problems, such as high blood pressure, arrhythmias, heart attack and heart failure if left untreated. To being treatment, you should consult a sleep specialist right away.

Dizziness

Dizziness or lightheadedness may indicate that your brain isn’t getting enough blood, says Kuppahally, and it can be a subtle sign of a heart attack, especially in women, who often have atypical symptoms. Dizziness could also indicate an arrhythmia (abnormal heartbeat) or heart damage.
If you’re experiencing dizziness along with other heart symptoms, get to the ER as quickly as possible.

Fatigue or exhaustion

Extreme fatigue is a subtle warning of a heart attack or heart disease. If you can’t walk up a short flight of stairs or carry your groceries, seek medical assistance as soon as possible.

One study published in the journal, Circulation found that more than 70 percent of women experience unusual fatigue in the month leading up to their heart attacks. Some women ignored it as a symptom of a serious heart problem and some who tried repeatedly to seek medical care often had this symptom misdiagnosed or dismissed by their physicians.

Erectile dysfunction

Heart disease and erectile dysfunction (ED) may both be caused by poor circulation, but problems in the bedroom usually occur first. This means that ED could be alerting you to current or future heart disease.

Seven tips by Ashesh Parikh, DO

Depression and mental illness

A 2012 study found that mild depression and anxiety, where symptoms are so subtle that people don’t seek help from a doctor to get diagnosed, increases heart disease related deaths by 29 percent.
Depression, anxiety and daily stressors such as a fight with a spouse increases your chances of high blood pressure and heart disease. Research has also found that depression raises your risk of arterial clogging and makes you less likely to exercise and eat right, which also contributes to poor heart health.

Unemployment

One study looking at 13,000 middle-aged adults and seniors found unemployment to be a serious threat to cardiovascular health. The risk of heart attack went up a little more each time participants experienced a job loss, from 22 percent after the first bout of unemployment to up to 63 percent after four or more. Additionally, researchers found that four or more job losses were just as harmful to the body as diabetes, high blood pressure and even smoking.

Poor oral health

Flossing may seem futile at the end of a long day, but research shows that your dental health reflects on your heart health.

According to Dr. Parikh, when your mouth is unclean, or you have an abscess, cavity or gum disease that goes untreated, their bacteria ends up in your blood stream, eventually making its way into the valves of the heart. The bacteria from your mouth can grow on those valves, put pressure on them and even cause them to rupture or break. This condition, called endocarditis, can even be life-threatening.

A southern diet

It can be hard to turn down fried chicken and creamy mac and cheese. Unfortunately, these and other popular Southern eats are often jam-packed with saturated fat and sugar – all bad news for your heart.

One study out of the University of Alabama at Birmingham found that people whose diet consisted heavily of Southern-style foods had a 56 percent increased risk for heart attack. Those people were also more likely to have hypertension and diabetes, which are clear markers for future heart attack.

Long commutes

Suffering through traffic is no fun at all and it can also cause damage to your heart. Long commutes increase blood pressure, cholesterol and anxiety. Those that have commutes longer than 30 miles tend to be much more obese and have a much higher risk for heart.

To make you commute healthier, Dr. Parikh suggests packing your own healthy snacks, like smoothies, so you’ll steer clear of all the junk on your way home.

E-cigarettes

While e-cigarettes are marketed as a safe alternative to cigarettes, experts warn that the long-term effects are still unknown. Studies have hinted that certain substances in e-cigs, such as nicotine, still have damaging effects on the heart. 

Dr. Parikh says, “E-cigarettes can be a bridge to help you quit smoking as a last resort. The nicotine level is not as high as cigarettes, and for very heavy smokers, we might recommend the switch to an e-cigarette to eventually wean them off completely.” Just remember that no cigarette, not even e-cigarettes, are safe when it comes to your overall health, says Parikh.

Ibuprofen and acetaminophen

When a headache threatens to derail our day, over-the-counter NSAIDs like ibuprofen and naproxen are an easy fix. Recent warnings from the FDA say the use of NSAIDS could up your risk of heart attack and stroke, even after short-term use, and the risk continues to increase the longer you take them.

In Dr. Parikh’s opinion, as long as you stick to the safety and dosage recommendations listed on the bottle, you’re okay.

“If you’re taking it within the recommended dose, it’s still a very safe drug.”

Ask about these five surprising heart attack risks

Migraines

Having migraines doubles your risk of heart attack, according to a 2010 study in the journal Neurology. Migraine sufferers also are more likely to have risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. If you experience migraines, be sure to tell your doctor so you can be monitored for warning signs of heart disease.

Influenza

Having heart disease can make you more likely to contract the flu, and getting the flu virus can temporarily increase your risk of heart attack. Infections like the flu trigger inflammatory responses in the body, which can cause a heart attack. Your best strategy: get your flu vaccine at the beginning of flu season.

Autoimmune disease

Certain autoimmune diseases and inflammatory syndromes like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis may increase your chances of having a heart attack. The American College of Cardiology notes that several autoimmune disorders are linked to “heart block”—a problem with your heart’s electrical system. Some people may even need a pacemaker. Check with your doctor if you have an autoimmune disease and are experiencing erratic heartbeats.

Stopping aspirin therapy

Aspirin is a blood thinner that can prevent blood clots from forming. If you’ve been taking a daily aspirin as a preventive measure or because you’re a heart attack survivor, don’t suddenly stop taking it. That can boost your heart attack risk by triggering a blood clot (called the “rebound effect”). If you want to discontinue aspirin therapy, ask your healthcare provider how to wean yourself off of aspirin safely. One common method is to reduce how often you take an aspirin. Over several weeks you might go from daily to every other day to once or twice a week.

Sleep disorders

Sleep apnea, which disrupts a person’s breathing during sleep, not only affects sleep quality, it also increases the risk of heart attack, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Treatment for sleep apnea with a continuous positive airway pressure mask (CPAP) at night seems to reduce heart attack risk, perhaps because the therapy also reduces blood pressure, both at night and during the day. Lesson: don’t ignore sleep problems.