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Departments & Services

Love your heart with comprehensive care provided by the best of the best in Connecticut cardiology.

HHC Cardiology Departments & Services

We are proud of our program, the lives it has saved and the patients and family members we have helped over the years:

Among the highlights:

  • We lead the state in the treatment of coronary artery disease.
  • We were the first in Connecticut to use robotics to perform complex ablation.
  • In the last two decades, we have performed more than 30,000 percutaneous coronary interventions (PCI), while ranking in the top 15 percent nationwide for risk-adjusted PCI mortality.
  • Our cardiac surgeons performed the first coronary artery bypass procedure and the first minimally invasive bypass surgery and valve replacements in Connecticut.
  • In concert with LIFE STAR and an extensive network of EMS providers, we have one of the largest STEMI (ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction) treatment programs in New England. STEMI is an organized response between the hospital and paramedics to facilitate diagnosis, triage and timely treatment of patients.
  • We feature the largest Interventional Cardiology Program for treating Chronic Total Occlusions -- coronary arteries that have been completely occluded for prolonged periods -- in New England.
  • We have the only Atrial Fibrillation Center in Connecticut. A-Fib, the most common abnormal heart rhythm, increases a patient's risk for a stroke and symptoms such as palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness and fatigue.
  • Our capabilities extend from the electrophysiology lab, where we use the most advanced computerized mapping systems to minimize X-ray exposure, to the operating room, where our surgeons have access to the latest advancements in surgical ablation. We also participate in a wide range of research, putting us at the forefront of this treatment.
  • Our Athletes Heart Program is one of a kind in Connecticut, evaluating sports participants’ risks and the potential effects of competition, providing recommendations to competitive and recreational athletes with documented or potential cardiac problems.
  • Two procedures (TAVR and MitraClip), backed by our participation in national research, have produced high-quality outcomes for heart patients despite their complexities. TAVR, or Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement, is a procedure for some patients with severe narrowing of the aortic valve opening who are not candidates for traditional open-chest surgery or are high-risk operable candidates. MitraClip is a device delivered to the heart through the femoral vein, a blood vessel in the leg. Once implanted, it allows the heart to pump blood more efficiently, relieving symptoms of mitral valve disease and improving the patient’s quality of life.


Cardiac And Vascular Diagnostic Tests

The proper tests will help give your doctor a clearer picture of both your condition and possible treatments.

Electrophysiology

Specialists who test your heart’s timing system with an electrophysiology study or, when needed, implant a pacemaker or defibrillator to maintain a natural heart rhythm.

Atrial Fibrillation Center

The Atrial Fibrillation Center performs 1,300 procedures for more than 800 patients in a typical year. Find out why patients choose the Heart & Vascular Institute.

Atrial Fibrillation Ablation

Doctors eliminate tissues that might be causing atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat) using a catheter in a procedure called an ablation.

Pacemaker/Defibrillator

A pacemaker corrects slow heartbeats. If you have malignant ventricular arrhythmias, which can cause sudden cardiac death, your doctor can recommend a defibrillator.

Cardiac Monitors

How to find the right monitor to check your heart rhythm. 

Mitral Valve

Dr. Sabet Hashem, an expert in mitral valve repair, explains why repair is always preferable to replacement. 

Structural Heart Disease Program

Finding defects or abnormalities in the heart that don’t affect the organ’s blood vessels 

TAVR

A valve-within-a-valve repair of the aortic valve for select at-risk surgical patients with severe aortic stenosis.

Patent Foramen Ovale

A hole in the heart, present in all newborns, that does not heal.

Left Atrial Appendage Closure

Blood clots in the left atrial appendage, an otherwise extraneous sac extending from the left atrium, in patients with atrial fibrillation. 

MitraClip

A nonsurgical alternative for patients with a leaky heart valve.


Details on some of the other services at The Heart & Vascular Institute:

Cardiac Rehabilitation Program

The Hartford HealthCare Cardiac Rehabilitation program is an exercise and health program aimed at helping people recover from a recent heart hospitalization. It is designed to provide education guidelines to help heart patients safely increase their physical fitness and return to a healthy and active lifestyle.

Chest Pain Center

Hartford HealthCare's Chest Pain Center is a short-stay evaluation center where highly trained staff in cardiac care provides thorough assessment, diagnosis and treatment to patients experiencing unexplained chest pain and heart attack symptoms.

The Chest Pain Center screens for the entire spectrum of coronary heart disease – heart attack, cardiac ischemia, latent coronary disease and risk factors. Patients who have an urgent cardiac status are triaged to the appropriate cardiac unit. Lower risk patients whose status is unclear are admitted to the Chest Pain Center for close observation, while those whose chest pain is a non-cardiac emergency are safely discharged. The goal is to minimize the time it takes to treat a patient experiencing a potential cardiac emergency.

Some paramedics can now administer an electrocardiogram when arriving at the site of the patient. These results are immediately and securely transmitted to the Chest Pain Center. If a patient is suffering from a severe heart attack, a system-wide response will begin at the Hospital prior to the patient’s arrival, ensuring the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory is briefed on and prepared for the patient’s emergency. Emergency cardiac treatment will begin instantly when the patient arrives at the hospital.

Congestive Heart Disease Center

The Congestive Heart Disease Center enables patients who have been diagnosed with congestive heart disease to manage their health and improve the quality of their lives through early symptom recognition, continuity of care, diet planning and medication management. One-on-one clinic visits or group educational programs are available where symptoms of heart failure, medications, diet and fluid restrictions are reviewed in detail with patients and their families.

Routine follow-up telephone calls are made in order to assess progress and to help answer any questions patients may have. Personalized nutritional consultation with a registered dietician is also available to design a balanced program that meets the individual needs of each patient.

Echocardiography

Echocardiography is the ultrasound examination of the heart. Painless, non-invasive and radiation-free diagnostic procedures detect conditions involving the structure and function of the heart – providing maximum information with minimum risk. The Echocardiography Laboratory at Hartford Hospital offers a wide spectrum of echocardiography clinical services and state of the art equipment and technology.

Specialized types of echocardiographs include:

  • Transesophageal Echocardiography
  • Intraoperative Echocardiography
  • Exercise and Pharmacologic Stress Echocardiography
  • Contrast Echocardiography
  • Three-dimensional Echocardiography
  • Doppler Tissue Imaging
  • Strain Rate Imaging

Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO)

For patients with respiratory and/or cardiac failure, time is indeed a matter of life and death. That’s why an innovative procedure known as Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO), is helping to give the human body the time it needs to heal.

ECMO is performed by a machine that provides partial heart-lung bypass for patients with severe, but reversible, respiratory failure and/or cardiac disease for whom other intensive care therapies have failed. ECMO is used only after medicine and a breathing machine (ventilator) have failed to improve the condition of a patient with respiratory failure.

Heart Failure Infusion Program

Treatment is individually tailored to achieve euvolemia (the presence of the proper amount of blood in the body). Infusion therapy is given by specialized heart failure nurses over 2-3 hour sessions and repeated on multiple days as needed. Management consists of specialized dietary and nursing care focused on patient education and support. It safely bridges patients from the hospital to the outpatient community preventing relapse and re-admission while allowing patients to stay in the comfort of their home.

Ongoing, intermittent reinforcement of Heart Failure Self Care by specialized nurses and dietitians in the Infusion Program facilitates compliance, patient satisfaction, and reduced admission to the hospital while improving patients’ quality of life. Outpatient diuretic infusion prevents deconditioning while promoting peer social interaction and emotional support.

Heart Failure Rescue Program

Hartford HealthCare has created one of the state’s most comprehensive programs for managing congestive heart failure, from outpatient care in our infusion center to the use of ventricular assist device technology and heart transplantation.

What sets Hartford HealthCare's Heart Failure Rescue Program apart is its designation as a Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) Destination Therapy Center to sustain patients who are candidates for heart transplant as they await a donor heart. Some VAD patients find that their hearts actually improve with help from these mechanical pumps.

Heart Surgery

Preventive and pharmaceutical therapies are not enough for some people with serious heart conditions. Hartford HealthCare's cardiovascular surgeons were the first in Connecticut to integrate the latest advancements in robotics and computer technology during surgical procedures. The Department of Cardiovascular Surgery is a team of experienced and dedicated surgeons who offer a full range of sophisticated cardiac surgical services in the following areas:

  • Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery, including: beating heart bypass (off pump), robotic assisted, minimally invasive approaches.
  • Heart Valve Surgery, including: mitral valve replacement, aortic valve replacement, minimally invasive approaches.
  • Surgery for Advanced Heart Failure, including: heart transplantation, ventricular assist devices/mechanical circulatory support, high risk coronary artery bypass, valve repair or replacement, and left ventricular reconstruction.
  • Complex Aortic Surgery, including: aortic root, ascending aorta, aortic arch and dorsal aortic replacement, endovascular (stent graft), thoracic and abdominal aortic repair.
  • Cardiac Arrhythmia Surgery, including: pacemakers and defibrillators, maze procedure for atrial fibrillation.
  • General Thoracic surgery, including: minimally invasive lung surgery (VATS, Robotic), Esophageal surgery.
  • Peripheral Vascular Surgery, including: Endovascular (stent graft) abdominal aneurysm repair, peripheral artery bypass, carotid artery surgery.
  • Bloodless Medicine and Surgery.

Heart Transplant

When a compatible organ becomes available, the transplant patient is immediately contacted by a transplant coordinator or transplant surgeon and admitted to the hospital. At this time, a history is taken of any medical events, which may have occurred since initial transplant evaluation. All appropriate testing is also done to ensure the patient’s readiness for surgery.

The surgery lasts approximately five to eight hours. When the surgery is completed, the patient is transferred to the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit. Once stable, the patient is transferred to the transplant patient care unit on North 11. The average length of stay in the ICU is three to seven days.

The average total length of stay in the hospital is two to three weeks.

Careful, comprehensive post-surgical monitoring constantly evaluates whether the body is accepting the new organ. Patient education is a major focus of the post transplant care. Patients must understand their medical regimen and be responsible for their follow-up care.

LDL-Apheresis Center

For people who cannot reach their target LDL cholesterol levels by changes in food, exercise and drug treatment, a nonsurgical therapy called LDL-apheresis may be necessary.

High blood cholesterol is one of the major risk factors for heart disease. Most people can reduce high levels of “bad” cholesterol, or low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, with lifestyle changes such as food modification, exercise and medication. But for people who are predisposed to high cholesterol levels, adding a drug treatment is sometimes not enough. LDL-apheresis therapy separates plasma — which contains cholesterol — from the bloodstream and runs it through a machine that removes the LDL.

Minimally Invasive Maze Surgery (Mini Maze)

Also known as surgical ablation, minimally invasive maze surgery, or “mini maze,” is a technique used to surgically treat atrial fibrillation, without the need to open the chest. Mini maze is performed using small incisions and special surgical tools, leading to shorter recovery time and lower risk of infection.

What is atrial fibrillation?
The most common form of arrhythmia, atrial fibrillation (A-­Fib) is an interruption in the regular heartbeat that can lead to clots, which can cause a heart attack or stroke. At the minimum, A‐Fib can cause shortness of breath, dizziness and fatigue. When medications and other conventional interventions fail to restore a normal heartbeat, mini maze ablation is a leading option.

What is mini maze?
Mini maze involves making several small incisions within the wall of the atria. This results in formation of scar tissue that ensures movement of the electrical impulses in the proper direction. The key difference between maze and mini maze is that with the minimally invasive surgery, it only requires one or two small incisions in the chest.

How is mini maze performed?

This procedure is done by a cardiothoracic surgeon, and takes three to four hours. Because it doesn't require the large incisions in the sternum that are necessary for open-­heart surgery, recovery time is much shorter and easier, and most patients are A-Fib-free afterward. The mini maze procedure offers a way to stop the irregular heartbeats and heart palpitations without the long and difficult recovery from open‐heart surgery.

Nuclear Cardiology

Nuclear medicine imaging, using low-dose radioactive components and sophisticated computer technology, can often identify a heart disorder in its early stage. The Nuclear Cardiology Laboratory provides the most innovative diagnostic technology and procedures to patients who are at risk of coronary heart disease.

Preventive Cardiology

Cardiovascular disease affects more than 70 million Americans and is the leading cause of death for both men and women.

People can reduce their risk for heart disease by monitoring controllable risk factors such as high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking and obesity.

The Department of Preventive Cardiology offers a series of comprehensive programs focusing on the prevention, management and treatment of heart disease through patient care and education.

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