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“Heart” With a Little Help from Our Friends

“Where’s your heart?”

That’s what Barbara Brown’s grandchildren asked her after she had open heart surgery at Lexington Medical Center.

They were talking about the heart-shaped pillow that each heart surgery patient receives. Members of the patient’s care team sign it. And, sometimes, the surgeon draws on the pillow to explain the patient’s condition and how to fix it.

“The heart was a lifesaver,” Brown said. “I’d hug it after surgery and it made me feel more secure.”

The Lexington Medical Center Foundation provides the heart pillows, which are designed to support the chest when
patients cough or sneeze after surgery and to help them remember not to use their arms when standing and walking.

The pillows add some emotional comfort, too.

LMC_010914_0118The retired Lexington County middle school math teacher’s heart troubles began early in 2013 when she experienced pain running down her arm while on a treadmill. She was also borderline diabetic, had high cholesterol and a history of heart disease in her family.

The problems multiplied one day when she was walking at Riverbanks Botanical Garden in Columbia with a friend.

“It felt like there was an elephant on my chest.” And her face was as pale as a ghost.

A cardiac catheterization at Lexington Medical Center revealed two blocked arteries. Brown underwent open heart surgery at the hospital on July 18, 2013, two days before her 63rd birthday.

After surgery, she began the hospital’s Cardiac Rehabilitation program, taking classes about nutrition and healthy eating, and working out on treadmills, bikes and elliptical machines in Lexington Medical Center’s nationally accredited cardiac rehabilitation facility.

“The thing I liked most was knowing that I was being monitored,” Brown said. “I felt confident knowing they were watching me.”

Statistics show that cardiac rehabilitation participants experience a 34 to 46 percent reduction in death rates compared to non-participants. Benefits also include reduced symptoms, increased energy, quicker return to work and leisure activities, and improved quality of life.

Cardiac rehabilitation is so important that the Lexington Medical Center Foundation offers scholarships to people in need who do not have the resources to pay for it. And the hospital’s Foundation pays for a DVD library to educate cardiac rehabilitation patients, flat screen televisions for the gym and waiting area, scales for patients to use at home, and tuition for smoking cessation classes.

These days, Brown eats healthy, keeps a food journal and exercises 30 minutes daily. She also takes care of two of her grandchildren two days per week. They like to play “hospital” in her house and hand her the heart pillow.

“You need your heart,” they tell her.

The Lexington Medical Center Foundation provides important programs and services that help people in our community, including cancer patients. Please consider giving to the Lexington Medical Center Foundation during the Central Carolina Community Foundation’s “Midlands Gives” challenge on May 5. Learn more at MidlandsGives.org.

Back on the Farm After TAVR

For Joe Fields, life doesn’t get much better than when you’re enjoying the great outdoors – like working on his Midlands cattle farm or fishing on Lake Murray.
But a problem with his heart made that nearly impossible.

“With my symptoms, I could hardly do anything except sit down.”

The 72-year-old outdoorsman from Saluda had aortic stenosis. That’s a narrowing of the aortic valve, which is the valve that allows oxygenated blood out of the heart to the rest of the body. Patients with aortic stenosis have a valve that doesn’t open properly.

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Joe’s aortic stenosis was so severe that it left him with shortness of breath and chest pain. Simply climbing onto his tractor made him breathless. Betty, his wife of 53 years, says he even had trouble walking to the mailbox.

And it was worse at night.

“Lying in bed, I’d have to concentrate on breathing hard to get enough air through to keep me going,” he said.

Aortic stenosis can be a serious problem. As the heart works harder to pump enough blood through the smaller opening in the valve, the heart eventually becomes weak. Over time, that can lead to life-threatening heart problems. In fact, the life expectancy for people with severe, symptomatic aortic stenosis is less than two years.

IMG_9991At Lexington Medical Center in West Columbia, Joe learned about transcatheter aortic valve replacement, known as TAVR. This state-of-the-art cardiovascular technology allows doctors to replace the aortic valve with a catheter instead of performing open heart surgery. Lexington Medical Center began performing TAVR last spring.

Currently, TAVR is only for patients with severe aortic stenosis who are high-risk candidates for open heart surgery because of their age, history of heart disease or other health issues.

Joe, who underwent coronary artery bypass surgery twenty years ago and had stents placed in blocked arteries awhile back, met with a multi-disciplinary team of physicians at Lexington Medical Center who perform TAVR, including cardiologists and cardiovascular surgeons at Lexington Cardiology and Lexington Cardiovascular Surgery. He underwent TAVR at the hospital in October 2014.

Joe spent three days at Lexington Medical Center for the procedure. Immediately after TAVR was complete, he noticed that he could breathe better.

“The next morning when they came in to check my breathing, they said, ‘Man, you’re moving some air today!”

Betty, who says she’s incredibly thankful that Lexington Medical Center now offers a comprehensive cardiovascular program, has noticed a difference in Joe, too. Before TAVR, she said her husband had trouble working on the farm at all. In fact, he had to hand off much of the work with the cattle to his son. Now, Joe is in the pasture from early morning until late afternoon with no chest pain, shortness of breath or fatigue.

“It’s a whole different life for me,” Joe said. “I can get out and do things again. TAVR is one of the best things I’ve ever done.”

LMC Irmo Shines in Patient Experience Awards

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Lexington Medical Center Irmo’s Ambulatory Surgery department has won the prestigious Guardian of Excellence and Beacon of Excellence Awards for patient experience from Press Ganey, an organization that tracks and ranks patient experience in many areas of health care across the country.

The Guardian of Excellence Award is for health care organizations that reach the 95th percentile in patient satisfaction for each reporting period of the year. The Beacon of Excellence Award goes to the top three organizations in the nation for consistently high levels of excellence in patient experience over three years.

amberg_131105_164“The employees at Lexington Medical Center Irmo are always striving to provide the most extraordinary care to our patients,” said Susan Horton, director of Guest Services. “They are honored each year for their accomplishments.”

Press Ganey partners with more than 10,000 health care facilities across the nation to measure and improve patient experience.

LMC Irmo has been serving the people of the Irmo community for 28 years. Approximately 150 surgeries per month are performed there.