Heart, vascular and thoracic care in Denver
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every one in four deaths in the U.S. every year is the result of heart disease — almost 700,000 people.
The heart and vascular doctors within the HealthONE Physician Group network are committed to reducing these numbers by preventing heart disease and doing everything we can to help patients with a heart condition live a healthy and active lifestyle. Patients receive quality care from board-certified cardiologists and cardiovascular specialists who are trained to treat a wide range of heart conditions.
For more information on our heart and vascular care services, please schedule an appointment with us.
Preventing heart disease
Treating heart disease starts with prevention. For those who have a family history of heart disease or have been referred by their primary doctor to a cardiologist, we provide a wide range of preventative services for heart patients.
Coronary heart disease refers to the buildup of plaque in the arteries of the heart that might cause a heart attack. The risk factors for coronary artery disease include:
- Family history
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Obesity (in some cases)
Men older than age 45 and women who are postmenopausal might also have a higher risk of coronary artery disease.
Coronary artery disease is preventable. Patients who eat or adopt a healthy diet, control their weight and get the right amount of exercise can reduce their risk of coronary heart disease.
Women and heart disease
According to the American Heart Association, one woman in the U.S. dies from cardiovascular disease every minute. More than one in three women are living with cardiovascular disease.
Our cardiologists work with the specialists in our women's care program to educate our female patients on the risk factors of heart disease and help them take steps to prevent or reduce the likelihood of heart attack or stroke.
Heart screening procedures
As part of our ongoing commitment to accurate diagnosis and early intervention, we may use one or more of the following diagnostic tools:
Computed tomography angiography (CTA)
CTA is a non-invasive exam that uses computed tomography (CT) technology to look at the blood vessels throughout your body. It is used to evaluate abnormal narrowing or enlargement of blood vessels in the chest, abdomen, pelvis and extremities. For example, doctors may use a CTA to get images of your aorta and may aid in the diagnosis of an abdominal aortic aneurysm or aortic dissection.
Our CTA techniques minimize radiation exposure while providing high-quality diagnostic images.
Also known as a cardiac ultrasound, an echocardiogram uses sound waves to take pictures of the heart’s chambers, valves, walls and blood vessels. An echo test helps doctors see the heart's functionality of the heart and pumping strength as well as any problems or abnormalities occurring inside the heart.
Event and Holter monitoring
These portable devices record the same information as an echocardiogram, but can go with you while you go about your normal life.
An event monitor is triggered by the user to record an event and can be used for a month or more. A Holter monitor records continuously for usually 24 to 48 hours. This data can help your physician see how your heart beats during normal life activities.
Exercise stress testing
An exercise stress test helps both patients and doctors know how well your heart handles work. It is often used to diagnose coronary artery disease, determine a safe level of exercise for patients, predict one’s potential risk of heart attack or other heart-related conditions, and monitor the progress of patients with coronary artery disease.
Implantable loop recorder
An implantable loop recorder is a small device about the size of a USB stick. It is implanted under the skin during a minor procedure and is used to record your heart rhythm for up to three years. This information is extremely valuable to our providers in determining the right diagnosis and treatment.
Magnetic resonance imaging and angiography
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a non-invasive technique that uses magnetic resonance technology to look at blood flow through the blood vessels. An angiogram uses X-rays and a special dye to take images of the arteries in your heart. These techniques can also be used to identify flow and areas of stress in blood vessels that can lead to problems in the future.
This non-invasive exam uses high-frequency sound waves to create images, visualizing blood vessels and detecting the rate of blood flow through blood vessels. Ultrasound imaging can detect blood clots and narrowed blood vessels throughout the body. It can also evaluate varicose veins and determine candidates for endovenous (vein) ablation.
Other vascular tests include:
- Abdominal aortic artery scan — A test using ultrasound technology to measure the size of the abdominal aorta
- Ankle-brachial index — A test that measures the ratio between the pressure in your arms and the pressure in your legs, which shows how well blood flows to the legs
- Carotid artery scan — A vascular imaging test using ultrasound technology to measure the amount of dangerous plaque that may be in the carotid arteries and the speed of the blood flow in these arteries
If a patient has advanced coronary artery disease, we can act quickly to clear blocked arteries using one of the following procedures:
- Angioplasty — During an angioplasty procedure, doctors guide a catheter to the blocked coronary artery and inflate a balloon at the end of the catheter, which pushes the plaque against the walls of the artery. Most of these procedures also use a coronary stent to keep the artery from narrowing or closing again.
- Laser atherectomy — A laser atherectomy is a newer procedure that involves inserting a catheter that emits a high energy light (laser) to vaporize blockages in the artery.
- Mechanical atherectomy — A procedure where a sharp blade on the end of a catheter removes plaque from a blood vessel.
Cardiovascular conditions we treat
We treat a wide range of conditions affecting the heart and blood vessels, including:
A heart arrhythmia is a disruption in the heart's electrical signals, causing it to beat too fast, too slowly, or irregularly. Arrhythmias can be caused by congenital abnormalities or may be a sign of cardiovascular disease.
Our doctors use many minimally invasive procedures to correct arrhythmias and get the heart pumping normally.
A heart attack occurs when one or more blood vessels to the heart become blocked, robbing the heart muscle of the blood it needs to work. If not treated quickly,
Some symptoms of a heart attack include:
- Discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes. It may also go away and come back. The discomfort can feel like pain, pressure or a squeezing sensation.
- Discomfort in other areas of the body, including one or both arms, jaw, back, neck or stomach
- Shortness of breath
- Breaking out in a cold sweat
- Nausea or lightheadedness
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please call 911 immediately.
Our doctors can diagnose blocked arteries before they become a problem and clear them using angioplasty or a stent.
Heart failure doesn’t mean that your heart has stopped working altogether. Instead, this term refers to a chronic condition in which the heart is not pumping enough blood to meet your body's demands. As a result, you feel fatigued, short of breath and have difficulty walking or climbing stairs.
Doctors may manage your heart failure with medications, or you may have an additional underlying condition that can be treated to alleviate the heart failure. Surgical or medical device treatments might include:
- Biventricular pacing
- Cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT)
- Coronary bypass
- Heart valve repair or replacement
- Implantable cardioverter-defibrillators
- Ventricular assist devices (VADs)
Structural heart conditions
Sometimes the heart develops structural abnormalities that occur while the baby is in utero or develop due to heart disease. These problems may include holes in the chambers of the heart, a thickening of the walls of the heart and valves that don't work well.
Usually these conditions don't cause any problems, but when they do, we offer many minimally invasive surgical cardiac procedures to fix the abnormalities and get patients back to living a normal life quickly and safely.
Vascular diseases affect your blood vessels. They are common and can sometimes be serious. Risk factors generally include the following:
- Conditions that can affect the heart and blood vessels, such as diabetes or high cholesterol
- Family history of vascular or heart diseases
- Infections or injuries to the veins
- Lack of exercise
- Sitting or standing still for a long time
Types of diseases we treat with vascular surgery include:
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Carotid artery disease
- Varicose veins
Heart disease treatment
For patients diagnosed with coronary heart disease, therapies include medications that manage cholesterol, prevent blood clots and help the heart not work so hard.
However, sometimes the problem won't go away with medication. When open-heart surgery is needed, our cardiothoracic surgeons can perform coronary artery bypass graft surgery, also known as heart bypass or bypass surgery. This operation is also used to treat a blocked or narrowed coronary artery and restore blood flow to the heart.
Bypass surgery uses a heart-lung bypass machine, which pumps blood to the heart while it is stopped. Doctors may recommend bypass surgery for patients with coronary artery chronic total occlusion (CTO), in which there is a complete or almost-complete blockage of the artery for longer than a month.