Thursday, February 14, 2019

Heart-Health Tips

Although February is American Heart Month, your heart needs TLC every day of the year. Catholic Health Services (CHS) offers free seminars, health screenings and other services to communities across Long Island. For a current list, go to Below are some tips to keep your heart healthy and strong.

Eating Right
  • According to the American Heart Association (AHA), including fruits and vegetables at every meal helps you to get the balanced nutrition that supports good cardiac health.  
  • Look for the AHA Heart-Check Certification symbol when you shop for groceries. This signifies that the product meets the criteria for heart-healthy foods, relating to fat, sodium and other ingredients. 
  • AHA, the National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute (NHLBI) and CHS all offer heart-healthy recipes online for easy reference.

Physical Activity
  • NHLBI recommends at least 2 1/2 hours of exercise each week to get your heart pumping. This regimen can be broken into small amounts each day. Speak to your doctor about what kind of exercise is right for you.  
  • Join CHS and fellow Long Islanders at the annual AHA Heart Walk at Jones Beach each fall. This year’s event is September 15, 2019.

A Healthy Lifestyle
  • NHLBI advises you to “know your numbers” to manage your heart disease risk. Rest for 5 minutes—and avoid caffeine for 30 minutes—before your blood pressure is taken. Your doctor can explain what your results indicate.  
  • As stress can take its toll on your heart, it’s important to periodically do deep breathing.

Did You Know?
  • Chest discomfort, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, nausea and a cold sweat, plus pain or discomfort of the arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach are all possible heart attack symptoms.
  • According to AHA, CPR can double or triple the chance of survival for those experiencing out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.
  • The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention lists an unhealthy diet, inactivity, obesity, excessive alcohol use and tobacco use among the risk factors for heart disease.

All six CHS hospitals perform diagnostics to identify cardiac abnormalities as early as possible. Procedures include coronary computed tomography angiography (CTA), electrocardiagram (EKG), echocardiography (ECHO) and stress tests. As a leading provider of quality services, CHS has expert cardiologists and other specialists on staff, with a world-class cardiothoracic surgical program and minimally invasive Heart Valve Center at St. Francis Hospital serving Nassau County residents and at Good Samaritan Hospital for Suffolk.

For more information call 1-855-CHS-4500.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Valvular Disease and Why You Should Consider TAVR Therapy

Catholic Health Services (CHS) strives to provide its clinicians and patients with the latest in technological advancements, such as trans-catheter techniques such as TAVR. Until recently, the TAVR lifesaving technology was only approved for patients who were too elderly or too ill to undergo open heart surgery. Currently, TAVR is being reviewed for people who are at low risk for surgical complications.

CHS's Executive V.P. and Chief Clinical Officer Patrick M. O’Shaughnessy, DO, MBA, FACEP, CHCQM sat down with CHS’s George Petrossian, MD, director of interventional cardiovascular procedures and co-director of the Heart Valve Center at St. Francis Hospital, The Heart Center®, last spring to discuss the latest advances in managing valvular disease and TAVR.

Dr. O’Shaughnessy: What is aortic stenosis and why is treatment important?

Dr. Petrossian: “Aortic stenosis is a disease affecting one of the main four valves of the heart. The aorta valve separates the left ventricle from the aorta. When the heart pumps, it forces blood out of the aortic valve with no pressure gradient across that valve. As people age, calcification can form on that valve causing restriction of valve opening. This can force a pressure gradient anywhere from 40, 50 or 100 mm of pressure difference between the left ventricle and aorta, causing the heart to struggle to pump blood. Because of natural history studies published in the 1950s, we know a combination of this scenario along with symptoms like shortness of breath, chest pain or fainting can leave patients with up to a 50 percent mortality risk in 2 years. Therefore, surgical therapy has not only been shown to improve symptoms but also to save lives.”

Dr. O’Shaughnessy: Can you explain how a TAVR procedure is conducted?

Dr. Petrossian: “St. Francis began offering TAVR in 2011. As part of that effort, the FDA approved the device for TAVR therapy. When we first started, many of our patients were given general anesthesia. Now, patients are treated with an anesthetic, like valium, so patients are breathing on their own without tubes and are alert at the end of the procedure. Most of the time, if the arteries are large enough, a catheter is placed in the groin, and a new valve is placed inside of the old valve. When that valve expands, it pushes the old valve away. It used to be that in surgery when a surgeon operated they took out the old valve and used sutures under their direct vision to hold the valve in place. With TAVR, there are no sutures. What holds the valve in place is an outward force of the metal. We are taking the calcium that has caused the disease and using it as an anchor.

In short, there is no open incision in the chest. We are now accessing the diseased valve through the groin, then feeding the catheter up and positioning the new valve within the diseased valve to repair the defect.”

Dr. O’Shaughnessy: How many TAVR procedures has St. Francis Performed?

Dr. Petrossian: “Since we began in 2011, we have treated over 1,600 patients. In 2018 alone we performed 485 TAVR procedures. We anticipate that TAVR volumes in the United States will double in the next five years.”

For more information on TAVR, visit or watch “CHS Presents: Health Connect – The Latest Advances in Managing Valvular Disease and TAVR” at