Tag Archives: Lexington Medical Heart Center

Honoring America’s Bravest: Dr. Heather Currier

This week, Lexington Medical Center is proud to be the presenting sponsor of the Stephen Siller South Carolina Tunnel to Towers 5K Run and Walk, scheduled for Friday at 7:00 p.m. in Columbia’s Vista. This race is named for New York City firefighter Stephen Siller, who lost his life while trying to save others on September 11, 2001. It honors all first responders and military members for their service and sacrifice.

Several Lexington Medical Center physicians have served in the military, including Heather Currier, MD, FACCP, cardiothoracic surgeon with Lexington Cardiovascular Surgery, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice. Dr. Currier retired from the United States Army this year after 24 years of distinguished military service.

Dr. Currier’s military career began when she attended the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

“I wanted to go to school with people who were smart and also honorable,” she said. “I liked being around people who wanted to serve our country.”

She earned her undergraduate degree in biochemistry with honors there and then received her medical degree from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland where she was awarded with outstanding performance distinction in surgery.

She completed a general surgery residency at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and a cardiothoracic surgery fellowship at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC.

During her career, Dr. Currier deployed for combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. There, she worked as a trauma surgeon for military service members injured in battle. She treated soldiers with overwhelmingly catastrophic injuries and loss of limbs.

Her job titles in combat included Chief of Surgery, Deputy Commander of Surgical Services and Chief of Surgery.

At the conclusion of Dr. Currier’s deployments, the United States awarded her with the Oak Leaf Cluster, Army Commendation Medal and the National Defense Service Ribbon.

Dr. Currier retired as a colonel from the United States Army earlier this year, while serving as the chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Eisenhower Army Medical Center in Fort Gordon, Georgia and Charlie Norwood Veteran Affairs Medical Center in Augusta, Georgia. She started working at Lexington Medical Center in February.

Dr. Heather Currier

Each year around the time of the Tunnel to Towers race, Dr. Currier thinks about the patients she treated in combat and of the team of clinicians who helped save the lives of America’s Bravest.

“We were all willing to die for a cause we believed in,” she said. “And that makes me proud.”

If you’d like to run or walk in this year’s Tunnel to Towers race, register by going to www.T2TRunSC.org.

Lexington Medical Center Performs First-of-its-Kind Heart Valve Replacement in South Carolina

This month, Lexington Medical Center’s heart program reached a new milestone in its work to provide patients with the most advanced technology in cardiovascular care. Doctors implanted the first LOTUS Edge™ aortic valve system in South Carolina. This device represents the latest generation of valve replacement for patients with severe aortic stenosis.

“The LOTUS Edge is the newest FDA-approved aortic valve replacement. It

LOTUS Edge. Courtesy: Boston Scientific

has several advantages over other valves in terms of safety and effectiveness. We’re excited to be the first in South Carolina to offer this technology to our patients,” said Robert A. Leonardi, MD, FACC, FSCAI of Lexington Cardiology, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice.

Severe aortic stenosis is significant narrowing of the aortic valve opening that can restrict blood flow out of the heart. It makes the heart work harder to move the blood throughout the body and can ultimately lead to heart failure.

The LOTUS Edge is implanted through transcatheter aortic valve replacement, known as TAVR. In this procedure, doctors replace the aortic valve with a catheter instead of open heart surgery. The artificial valve is compressed into a catheter that travels through a large blood vessel in the body to the diseased aortic valve. Doctors deploy the artificial valve over the patient’s valve. The new valve begins functioning immediately, restoring normal blood flow to the heart.

Lotus Edge. Courtesy: Boston Scientific

The LOTUS Edge is unique because it’s the only replacement valve on the market that allows doctors to reposition the new valve into an optimal position within the heart. It also has a seal that has been proven to reduce leakage of blood around the outside of the valve.

“This milestone showcases the incredible benefit of a truly integrated heart valve team. It benefits the patients to have cardiologists and surgeons working together,” said Jeffrey A. Travis, MD, heart surgeon at Lexington Cardiovascular Surgery, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice.

Dr. Leonardi and Dr. Travis performed the procedure together inside the cardiac catherization lab at Lexington Medical Center.

Lexington Medical Center has consistently demonstrated leadership in heart care. The hospital has the most experienced TAVR team in the Midlands and has performed the first fully percutaneous and first awake TAVR procedures in South Carolina. Patients typically go home the next day.

Lexington Medical Center began its comprehensive cardiovascular program in 2012 and has continued to expand its heart services to meet the needs of the community. The program is affiliated with Duke Health and has earned a three-star rating – the highest rating possible – from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons.

Finding the Right Beat: Pacemaker puts Blythewood Woman Back in the Cycling Seat

Sharon Sherbourne knew something wasn’t right. An avid cyclist and runner, she was training for a long-distance race when her legs felt heavy and her heart rate remained low even when she was exercising vigorously.

The 67 year old had begun an exercise routine about 15 years earlier, while she helped implement wellness programs as vice president of human resources at a Blythewood manufacturing plant. “I knew I had to walk the walk, so I started doing aerobics. A friend from church got me involved in the running community, so I started training for a 5K, and that morphed into doing an 8K.”

Sharon cycling in Blythewood

She eventually completed four full 26-mile marathons, along with numerous half-marathons, 10Ks and 5Ks. About 10 years ago, she added long-distance cycling to her workouts, but recently, she found herself out of breath climbing a flight of stairs. She made an appointment to see a doctor.

“My first cardiologist told me I was simply getting older and I probably didn’t need to be doing all that stuff,” Sharon said. “But I knew it was more than that. You know your own body.”

Then, she was referred to Lexington Cardiology and William W. Brabham, MD, FHRS, an electrophysiologist with Lexington Cardiology, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice. Dr. Brabham specializes in the treatment of abnormal heart rhythms. He scheduled a treadmill stress test for Sharon.

“As her workload increased on the treadmill, her heart rate peaked in the 70s to 80s, which is very unusual for her age. At 67, it wouldn’t be unreasonable for her heart rate to reach the 150s to 160s, especially with the level of activity that she typically would participate in,” Dr. Brabham said.

He diagnosed her problem as chronotropic incompetence, which is the inability of the heart to increase its rate to a level that matches a person’s activity level, combined with AV block, a condition where the signals from the top chambers of the heart don’t make it to the bottom chambers.

“It appeared most likely a result of age-related changes in the conduction system of the heart,” he said. “Just the way the rest of your body ages, the conduction system in your heart can age to varying degrees.”

Dr. William Brabham, Lexington Cardiology

He recommended a pacemaker, a device that monitors heart rate and stimulates the heart if it drops below a pre-programmed rate. A dual-chamber pacemaker, the type Sharon has, also restores the connection between the top and bottom chambers of the heart.

Sharon’s pacemaker was implanted in March; by late June, she was training for a 100-mile bike ride.

“I feel fantastic. It had gotten to the point where, when I was walking up stairs at the house, I’d get to the top and I’d be completely out of breath. So I had my pacemaker implant on March 7, I came home March 8 and the very first thing I did was walk up the stairs to see if it had made a difference. It had.”

For Sharon, a mother of two, grandmother of six and great-grandmother of one, the experience drove home the importance of listening to her body and going the extra mile for answers.

“Age should not be the marker for anything. Your physical fitness level, what you enjoy doing, what you’re used to doing — that should be what drives your behavior and drives your medical practitioner’s response,” she said. “I felt that Dr. Brabham really understood that and worked with me to make all of it happen.”