Tag Archives: Lexington Medical Heart Center

“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.

Ask the Doctor: Coronary Bypass Surgery

Dr. Dee Prastein, heart surgeon at Lexington Cardiovascular Surgery, was invited to be a guest on WIS-TV to talk about coronary bypass surgery. The topic was in the news after Bob Coble, the former mayor of Columbia, suffered a heart attack and underwent a bypass procedure.

In the first segment, she talked about how bypass surgery is performed.

In the second segment, she discussed recovery.

Lexington Medical Heart Center has performed more than 800 open heart surgeries since the program began in 2012. For more information, visit LexMed.com/heart

Welcome Heart Surgeon Deyanira “Dee” Prastein, MD

Lexington Medical Center is pleased to announce that Dr. Deyanira “Dee” Prastein has joined the hospital’s network of care as a heart surgeon. She joins Dr. Jeffrey Travis at Lexington Cardiovascular Surgery, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice, to provide comprehensive cardiovascular care that meets the needs of our community. She is the first female heart surgeon in the Midlands.

Prastein_Labcoat_Standing_ORDr. Prastein has world-class training in cardiothoracic surgery, studying inside some of the most prestigious heart programs in the world. Her intensive work includes experience with the most state-of-the-art procedures available today.

Prior to joining Lexington Medical Center, Dr. Prastein was the lead cardiothoracic surgeon at Duke Regional Hospital in Durham, N.C. A graduate of the Medical College of Virginia, Dr. Prastein completed a general surgery residency at the University of Maryland and cardiothoracic surgery training at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

During her residency, she participated in extensive research on heart failure. She then worked at Papworth Hospital in England, a facility famous for being one of the first in Europe to perform heart transplants.

Dr. Prastein compares open heart surgery to an orchestra playing music.

“All of the players in the operating room have different roles and everything has to come together,” she said. “It’s paced so that things happen at the right time and tempo. Everyone knows the steps and what time to do certain things, and the timing matters.”

Dr. "Dee" Prastein and Dr. Jeffrey Travis of Lexington Cardiovascular Surgery inside Lexington Medical Center's open heart surgery suite.

Dr. “Dee” Prastein and Dr. Jeffrey Travis of Lexington Cardiovascular Surgery inside Lexington Medical Center’s open heart surgery suite.

Dr. Prastein decided that she wanted to be a heart surgeon while in medical school.

“I thought that cardiothoracic surgery was the most amazing thing you could do as a surgeon and doctor,” she said. “Our brain makes us human and the person you are, but none of that matters if you don’t have a working heart.”

Lexington Medical Center’s heart program is affiliated with Duke Medicine. Dr. Prastein learned about the hospital while working there. And she was impressed.

“Lexington Medical Center is very passionate about and dedicated to making its heart program succeed.”

She also liked that Lexington Medical Center has made efforts to make sure they have the best cardiologists and surgeons available, and supporting staff to provide top-notch care.

“I love what Lexington Medical Center has created. My goal is to make the hospital’s heart program grow and thrive. There’s a lot of goodwill and passion for treating patients with heart disease, and I want to make sure I’m part of that success.”

She understands that heart surgery is a scary proposition for patients and their families. So, she works to put them at ease.

“Right before surgery, I talk to my patients, hold their hand, look into their eyes and tell them, ‘I’m going to take good care of you.’”

She knows that heart surgery will improve their quality of life and help them to live longer.

Working as a doctor has been a dream of Dr. Prastein since childhood. She was born in Nicaragua and lived there until she was 10, when war led her family to move.

“When we lived in Nicaragua and the war started, I wanted to help people,” she said. “In my eyes, there were only two people you could run to for help – priests and doctors.

Obviously, I couldn’t be a priest, so I wanted to be a doctor.”

Dr. Prastein settled in Fairfax, Virginia, outside of Washington, D.C., with her parents and brothers. Her mother and father, a civil engineer, sent her to college at George Mason University, where she graduated with a degree in chemistry.

There, she met her husband, Jonathan. They’ve been married for nearly 20 years and have a son named Jascha, who will be two years old in March. In her spare time, Dr. Prastein enjoys spending time with Jonathan and Jascha, and running. She has completed five marathons.

“I am proof that you can do anything with hard work. I am truly living the American dream.”