Heart health is paramount at UPHS-Marquette

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Photo courtesy of UP Health Systems UP Health Systems-Marquette is the largest hospital in the Upper Peninsula, as well as the only hospital with a catheter lab and the only hospital that can perform open-heart surgery.

If something goes wrong with your heart, every moment counts. Unfortunately, getting from the scene of a cardiac emergency to a hospital equipped to deal with it can be hard in Michigan’s rural Upper Peninsula. The Emergency Department at UP Health Systems-Portage is accredited as a Chest Pain Center by the American College of Cardiologists. This means that they can quickly diagnose and treat many cardiac urgent cardiac conditions.

Patients in more serious condition need a larger hospital, with more advanced services. Fortunately, UPHS-Marquette is just such a hospital.

“Marquette has the largest hospital in the U.P., and the only one that provides comprehensive cardiac care,” said Bryan Breeser, senior director of UPHS Heart and Vascular Services. “Distance is a factor, particularly here in the U.P. When you’re in the midst of a heart attack, time to definitive service can lead to further complications.”

Specialists from UPHS Heart and Vascular Center can be found in nine locations across the Upper Peninsula, namely Hancock, L’Anse, Iron Mountain, Manistique, Newberry, Sault Ste. Marie, Marquette and two locations in Escanaba. What makes Marquette the hub of UPHS Heart and Vascular Center is their facilities and resources that don’t exist anywhere else in the U.P.

UPHS-Marquette has a more advanced Intensive Care Unit than other hospitals in the U.P., it is the only hospital that is capable of performing open-heart surgeries, and the only one with a Heart Catheterization Lab. Marquette’s Heart Catheterization lab was one of the first five in the country to be accredited by the American College of Cardiology.

Heart Catheterization is used both in the diagnosis and in the treatment of many heart complications.

“We can thread a small tube through an artery and get it to the heart. We then inject a die to look for blockages,” said Breeser.

Catheters are also used to insert stents. Stents are narrow mesh tubes that are used to open up blood vessels that have been blocked. After the catheter is inserted and the stent is where it needs to be, a small balloon is inflated to expand the stent before the balloon and the catheter are removed leaving the stent in place. Catheters can also be used to replace valves in the heart.

Sometimes open-heart surgeries are used to repair valves or to perform heart bypass surgery. Heart bypass surgery involves redirecting blood vessels around a blockage so that blood can get to the heart. Between 250 and 270 open-heart surgeries are performed at UPHS-Marquette every year.

Some of the most common conditions treated by the UPHS Heart and Vascular Center include heart attacks and arrhythmias. Heart attacks occur when there is a blockage in the blood vessels that feed the heart. This can prevent the heart from getting the oxygen and nutrients that it needs. Arrhythmias occur when an abnormal heartbeat develops. An abnormal heartbeat can be benign or it may cause problems.

The beating of the heart is controlled by electrical impulses and “sometimes that electrical system gets disrupted,” said Breeser. “We have different ways of treating these electrical disturbances.”

One of the most common forms of abnormal heart beat is Atrial Fibrillation.  Atrial Fibrillation causes the heart to beat inefficiently. Symptoms can be mild, such as feeling like your heart skips a beat or more severe and places a person at higher risk for stroke.  Doctors at UP Health Systems-Marquette who specialize in heart rhythm disturbances can provide treatment to decrease the risk of stroke and in many cases even “cure” the cause of this abnormal heart rhythm.

Heart problems can occur for a number of reasons but many of them are preventable. Breeser recommended leading a healthy lifestyle, staying active, maintaining a reasonable weight, and controlling other conditions like high blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as seeing a primary care provider on a regular basis.

“Eat right, be active, see your doctor,” said Breeser.

You do not have to have a heart attack or other cardiac emergency to see a Heart and Vascular Specialist. Your primary care provider may refer you to one if he or she finds something unusual during a routine checkup. If you are worried about your heart, you can also call UP Health Systems for an appointment to see a heart specialist at one of the locations listed above.

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