Mark Your Calendars
AHA Women of Color Breakfast
Feb. 23 • 9 am
Cal Turner Family Center, Meharry
Meharry Medical College is hosting the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association Women of Color Breakfast on Feb. 23 at the Cal Turner Family Center at 1011 21st Ave. N. The annual event features medical experts sharing information on how to prevent heart disease and stroke.
In addition to a heart healthy breakfast, there will be door prizes and activities. Admission is free (donations are encouraged), however registration is required. To register, go online to bit.ly/wocbreakfast.
Harrison Nationally Recognized for Research
As last year wound down, the American Heart Association recognized 13 distinguished colleagues from across the country for their contributions to the field during the AHA's Scientific Sessions 2018 in Chicago.
David G. Harrison, MD, FACC, FAHA, of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, was awarded the 2018 Basic Research Prize for "lasting contributions that changed the direction of research in hypertension and its complications."
AHA President Ivor Benjamin, MD, of the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, said Harrison "has made two enduring contributions that profoundly changed research in the fields of hypertension and related cardiovascular diseases." He added Harrison and his colleagues have shown specialized molecules known as reactive oxygen species contribute to elevated blood pressure and its complications. "This led to an entirely new understanding of hypertension - that is, that oxidative signaling in the blood vessel, the kidney and the brain contribute to blood pressure elevation and the organ damage associated with it," Benjamin continued.
Harrison's team reported seminal findings that T cells play a key role in the development of hypertension. Benjamin noted, "These original discoveries led to an explosion of investigations around the world into oxidative signaling and innate and adaptive immunity in hypertension." The AHA president added Harrison and his team continue to lead this field of study and seek ways to avoid vessel damage and normalize blood pressure.
Harrison joined Vanderbilt's medical faculty in 2011. He is the Betty and Jack Bailey Chair in Cardiology and serves as director of both the Division of Clinical Pharmacology and of the Center for Vascular Biology. Before relocating to Nashville, Harrison served as director of Cardiology for Emory University. He earned his medical degree from Oklahoma University School of Medicine.
Saint Thomas Heart Celebrates Milestones
Last spring, Saint Thomas Heart launched the state's first Total Artificial Heart (TAH) program. In January, the hospital announced completion of their first TAH surgery.
The procedure was performed on a 28-year-old male patient who arrived at Saint Thomas with severe heart failure in late December 2018. Due to the severity of the patient's condition, the Saint Thomas Heart team determined the only chance of survival was to receive a total artificial heart transplant. The TAH device was implanted Jan. 10, and the patient continues to recover steadily and become increasingly active.
"The Total Artificial Heart technology gives individuals who are too ill to wait for a heart transplant a second chance at life. As the first heart transplant program in Tennessee, we are proud to provide this valuable technology to patients," said transplant surgeon Ashok N. Babu, MD, who serves as medical director for the program. "This device allows our patients improved mobility and a more active, higher quality of life."
SynCardia TAH is a life-saving treatment option provided to individuals eligible for heart transplant surgery who have end-stage, biventricular heart failure. It is provided to patients for which a heart transplant is not immediately available. The artificial heart replaces both lower chambers of the heart and the four heart valves and occupies the space of the removed heart. It is connected to an external driver, which pumps and monitors the TAH. The TAH increases chances of survival, allows an enhanced quality of life, including discharge home, and prepares those eligible for transplant by restoring blood flow and optimizing organ function.
In other milestone celebrated, the Saint Thomas Heart Team recently completed the 1,000th TAVR procedure since the program's launch in 2012.
According to Ascension Saint Thomas officials, less than 20 heart programs in the country have achieved this level of success with TAVR, which is a minimally invasive heart procedure that replaces the aortic valve through catheters and wires. Because the procedure is minimally invasive, patients experience rapid healing and are often able to return home the day following their procedure.
As one of the top TAVR sites in the country, Saint Thomas Heart is currently the only health system in the state to offer continued access to the Partner 3 Trial evaluating the use of TAVR for low-risk patients with aortic stenosis as a less invasive therapeutic option.
A Record-Breaking Heart Gala
The Greater Nashville American Heart Association held the 45th Annual Middle Tennessee Heart Gala on Jan. 26 at Nashville's Schermerhorn Symphony Center and raised a record-breaking $1.3 million to fight heart disease and stroke.
Chaired by physician leader Herman Williams, MD, and his wife, Jeannie, more than 800 supporters and volunteers attended the 2019 event. The mission of the organization is highly personal to the Williams family. Dr. Williams suffered cardiac arrest at age 31 during his orthopedic surgery residency while playing in a basketball game with his co-residents. He was resuscitated by his colleague using bystander CPR and ultimately had an internal defibrillator implanted. Some years later in 2013, he also suffered a stroke and fully recovered. In 2017, he had a second cardiac arrest at the Nashville International Airport and was saved, once again, by bystander CPR.
"Because of our personal connection as a family to heart disease and stroke, we know how important it is to bring more attention to this worthy cause. My husband is alive today because of what the American Heart and American Stroke Association has done in our community," stated Jeannie Williams.
During the event, Becky and Dick Cowart were presented the Martin E. Simmons Award to honor their impact on the mission of the AHA through tireless giving. Additionally, pediatric heart survivor Caleb Aslinger and his family were honored during the evening's Open Your Heart moment as the crowd happily celebrated Caleb's one-year "heart-iversary," marking one year since he received a new heart via transplant.
Expanded Cardiovascular Services at TriStar
TriStar Horizon Medical Center recently began offering coronary CTA, a non-invasive imaging test using advanced CT technology to obtain a high-resolution picture of the heart and vessels. In the past year, the hospital has significantly invested in new technology, including installing a new imaging suite specifically for interventional radiology. In addition to coronary CTA, the hospital has also recently begun offering CT perfusion for stroke patients.
Also, as part of an initiative around the management of Congestive Heart Failure patients, TriStar Horizon now offers the CardioMEMS. The small, pressure-sensing device is implanted directly into the pulmonary artery and sends information wirelessly to a patient's physician to inform decisions about medication or treatment plan adjustments as needed. Additionally, the hospital also recently introduced the Impella Ventricular Support System, partially or fully bypassing the left ventricle to pump blood into the aorta.
At TriStar Hendersonville Medical Center, the hospital and community are celebrating the new Heart & Vascular Center with an open house on Feb. 21. With robust technology, the hospital has made screening and treatment for heart and vascular disease more accessible to residents of Sumner County. TriStar Hendersonville is also adding cardiac MRI to its screening capabilities. Rick Koch, MD, a new cardiologist who joined the team on Feb. 1, has deep expertise in reviewing imaging studies related to heart and vascular care. The hospital has also recently added cardiac rehab to its offerings to expand programming for patients recovering from heart attacks.
Last summer, TriStar Centennial Heart and Vascular Center implanted the first MEMO 4D semi-rigid mitral annuloplasty ring in the world. The implant now comes in larger ring sizes, allowing surgeons to treat a broader range of patients who suffer from mitral valve regurgitation.
"MEMO 4D simplifies and standardizes complex mitral valve repair, facilitates minimally invasive surgical approaches and preserves the mobility of the mitral valve leaflets," said Sreekumar Subramanian, MD, TriStar Heart & Vascular Center cardiovascular surgeon who led the first surgery. "The new, larger sizes allow us to treat more patients and pathologies while providing the potential to further improve patient outcomes. With MEMO 4D, surgeons can optimize mitral repair procedures rather than replacing the entire mitral valve."
LivaNova, the medical device company that produces the larger MEMO 4D, is the only company to offer larger ring sizes, which helps in the treatment of severe mitral regurgitation like Barlow's disease or enlarged annuli.
Vanderbilt Transplant Center Debuts New Mobile App
Patients and providers now have instant access to the Vanderbilt Transplant Center on their smartphones and mobile devices with the debut of a new, free app available for iOS and Android devices. Simply search for "VUMC transplant" in the respective app store.
Designed to be a resource for transplant information at Vanderbilt University Medical Center for both patients and providers, the app helps patients find information about transplant programs, as well as educational links about transplantation. Patients can customize what organ they are interested in learning more about, meet the transplant team and find provider locations. Living donor information is also available as well as a living donor referral form.
For providers, the app offers improved access in the referring process for both adult and pediatric referrals through mobile-friendly REDcap referral forms. The app gives referring physicians a secure and vetted process to contact the on-call VUMC transplant physicians to enable better communication. The app also has a direct link to call the VUMC Transfer Center for urgent transfers of patients to VUMC facilities. Providers also have access to outcome data.
"The Vanderbilt Transplant app is a significant addition for our referring providers to access the transplant center," said Transplant Center Administrator Edward Zavala. "Additionally, the patient education component of the app provides patients ready access to transplant-specific education."
Saint Thomas, Henry County Partner on Cardiology
In December 2018, Ascension Saint Thomas Health announced a partnership with Henry County Medical Center (HCMC) to expand clinical coverage and provide additional cardiac services in Paris, Tenn.
The partnership will include the recruitment of an invasive Saint Thomas Heart cardiologist to be stationed full-time at HCMC, who will serve alongside an advanced practitioner and rotating cardiology specialists. In addition, a catheterization laboratory will be established at HCMC, allowing for more cardiac diagnostic testing and heart interventions.
"Because of our strong commitment to this community, Saint Thomas Health is pleased to announce the continuation and enhancement of our partnership with Henry County Medical Center," said Michelle Robertson, chief operating officer of Saint Thomas Health. "We are committed to providing healthcare for patients close to home, and this partnership allows patients and physicians in Henry County to have greater connectivity to the advanced therapies within Saint Thomas Heart."
Saint Thomas Health has provided cardiology services to the Henry County community for more than 15 years, and the expanded partnership will establish a joint comprehensive cardiology program that meets the needs of the Henry County community and surrounding regions. Saint Thomas Heart currently has five cardiologists and one advanced practitioner on the hospital's medical staff that have offered consultant care throughout the week.
Lifelong Exercise Keeps the Body Young
New Research from Ball State
Exercising on a regular basis over a lifetime might help keep the body decades younger, according to recent research from Ball State University.
Cardiovascular and Skeletal Muscle Health with Lifelong Exercise, an analysis of septuagenarians who have been exercising for decades, found that they have heart and lung capacities and muscle fitness like healthy people in their early 40s.
The study provided a unique opportunity to assess the physiological benefit of lifelong exercise by comparing exercisers in their 70s with their younger counterparts and sedentary people their own age. The study was published in the Journal of Applied Physiology.
"'Exercise wins' is the take-home message," said Scott Trappe, director of Ball State's Human Performance Laboratory and leader of the 11-person research team. "We saw that people who exercise regularly year after year have better overall health. These 75-year-olds -- men and women -- have similar cardiovascular health to a 40- to 45-year-old."
With the average study participant, characterized as a lifelong exerciser, working out is a hobby. On average, each exercised about five days a week for about seven hours in total.
The cardiovascular health was gauged by having participants cycle on an indoor bike to determine VO2 max, which measures the maximum amount of oxygen a person can use during intense exercise and establishes aerobic endurance. Each participant also had a muscle biopsy to determine how capillaries formed and aerobic enzyme activity. VO2max typically declines by about 10 percent per decade after age 30. The age-related reduction in VO2 max is directly associated with an increasing risk of multiple chronic diseases, mortality and loss of independence.
"What was really interesting about this study is these folks came out of the exercise-boom generation, which really started in the 1970s when running and tennis became popular to the masses," Trappe said. "Previous research studied people who were older exercisers but were champion athletes. They had a pathway in life that was a little different. Our idea was that we really felt that from our interactions around the community that there's a group of people here that are 70 and above, that started exercising in the late 60s, early 70s with the exercise boom.
"When we started this project, I didn't know if we'd find enough of these lifelong exercisers, and once we got into it, I was signing up for local races and introducing myself," he said. "But then what would happen is they would recruit -- they'd bring in their training buddies. We had a husband and wife team who rode a tandem bicycle together. They've ridden 4,000 to 5,000 miles together outdoors since the mid-1980s. There's tons of people like this out there."
Trappe also noted that women who've exercised since the '70s were almost as plentiful as men, attributing that to not only the exercise boom of the 1970s but also to the passage of Title IX in 1972. This federal law opened the doors to competitive sports to millions of young women across the nation.
Trappe acknowledged that while younger adults can handle more intense exercise, many septuagenarians have managed to find new ways to stay in shape at a fairly high level. Trappe said the benefits of the study should be obvious for the average person: 30 to 60 minutes of exercise a day may be the key to a healthy life.