Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, claiming the lives of more than 650,000 people each year. Since February is American Heart Month, we’re featuring one man’s journey to heart health at Holy Cross, Broward’s only Catholic hospital, serving our community for 67 years and a leader in the prevention and treatment of cardiac and vascular diseases.
When Doug Wilkins, a 70+ year-old longtime active athlete in overall good health, began having chest pains, he took himself to the emergency department at Holy Cross Health in Fort Lauderdale, where they ran a stress test. The test revealed that he had major blockages in three arteries and ended up having triple bypass surgery in September 2019. He participated in cardiac rehab at Holy Cross and in less than four months, graduated from that program. “I noticed a difference immediately after surgery,” he said. “I was feeling a lot better and that feeling continued as I participated in cardiac rehab. I didn’t realize how bad I was feeling until my heart was fixed.”
Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)
The first TAVR procedure at Holy Cross Health was done on March 16, 2012, and the 100th on August 12, 2015. For patients who are considered high-risk and for those who cannot undergo open heart surgery, TAVR is a first-of-its-kind artificial heart valve approved by the Food and Drug Administration that can now be threaded into place via four different approaches, ensuring that every patient has an anatomical pathway to replace the aortic valve. According to the Food & Drug Administration, about 300,000 patients in the U.S. experience valve deterioration, meaning the heart must work harder to pump blood, often leading to heart failure, blood clots and death.
Other first procedures
In 2009, the first patient at Holy Cross received the first Impella implant, the mechanical cardiovascular support system that can sustain a patient’s heart for up to seven days.
In 1983, the first angioplasty procedure to restore blood flow through narrow or blocked arteries was performed at Holy Cross Health.
Global, national, statewide and local firsts
For 67 years, Holy Cross Health has been at the forefront of healthcare in South Florida. The mission-driven, innovative, faith-based health organization has tallied many firsts in cardiac care in Broward County, the state, the nation and globally.
Holy Cross was the first in Broward County to achieve The Joint Commission’s Advanced Certification in Heart Failure, for maintaining the highest standards in providing stroke or heart failure care; perform Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacements on high-risk patients and on patients who cannot undergo or are at high risk open heart surgery; offer Induced Hypothermia, which has shown to increase the odds of surviving cardiac arrest and has also shown to improve neurological outcomes after such an event; implant Reveal LINQTM, the smallest wireless, long-term, cardiac monitor available on the market; and be a Joint Commission Advanced Heart Failure Certified program.
In South Florida, Holy Cross was the first to offer the Medtronics MyCareLinkTM Patient Monitor, a simplified remote monitoring system with global cellular technology that transmits patients’ cardiac device diagnostic data to their clinicians; with two daVinci S surgical systems for minimally invasive surgeries; participate in the AngelMed ALERTS Study of an implantable cardiac monitor and patient alerting system; and begin work on South Florida’s first Rotational 60 Cobalt Unit for radiation therapy as implants and as an external source of radiation exposure.
In Florida, Holy Cross Health was the first to utilize the iCT 256-slice scanner to offer Cardiac CT Angiography (CCTA), state-of-the-art technology that’s faster, safer, offers clearer images and allows physicians the ability to detect life-threatening illnesses at an early stage, including heart disease; to perform a Paravalvular Leak Closure using a transapical approach, for patients who are not suitable candidates for open heart surgery due to age or medical conditions; to use the Prime ECG Vest which, in select patients, may give physicians additional data beyond a traditional electrocardiogram; with the 256-slice CT scanner, the first in South Florida to use the scanner in the treatment of wake-up strokes and to perform Cardiac CTA.
“I could not be prouder of the heart and vascular care we provide at Holy Cross,” said Mark Doyle, president, and CEO. “We are home to top physicians and specialists in a wide range of specialties.”