Do Your Part; Know Your Heart!

February is American Heart Month, and there’s no better time to get to know your heart a little better and learn a few ways to keep it healthy! After all, it’s the only one you have. The most important step you can take to protect your heart is understanding your own individual risks for heart disease. Take a free heart health risk assessment. Did you know there’s a type of fat you shouldn’t cut back on in your diet? Where does all the sodium in your diet come from? And ladies, let’s make sure you are all aware of the silent heart attack. Don’t wait, learn more about your heart health today.

Heart Team Celebrates 100th Implant Patient

100th Watchman patient

Georgieanna Lafontaine, 68, and her sister Debra Farwell, both of Lunenburg, before Lafontaine’s surgery. Photo credit: Sentinel & Enterprise/John Love

Members of the electrophysiology team celebrated a tremendous milestone this past week when they implanted the 100th left atrial appendage device, called the Watchman, into 68-year-old Georgieanna Lafontaine of Lunenburg. “It’s exciting,” Lafontaine said, explaining that being patient 100 is a little reassuring. “It makes me realize that the people who came before me went well and I’m going to be there with them.” Watch the interview with Kevin Floyd, MD, MS, associate director of the Atrial Fibrillation Treatment Program. Read the Sentinel & Enterprise story. Learn more about atrial fibrillation and how the left atrial appendage implant reduces stroke.

Heart Team Members Are Pioneers in Aortic Stenosis Treatment

pioneers in minimally invasive TAVRNot only is our Heart and Vascular Center’s transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) program one of just a few in the state, it’s the only program in New England to offer minimally invasive alternate arterial access options for the procedure to avoid the need for general anesthesia and minimize risks for patients. in fact, our TAVR team was the first in the world to promote alternative access TAVR via vessels to the arm using minimally invasive techniques. Patients with severe aortic stenosis have a survival rate as low as 50 percent at two years and 20 percent at five years without aortic valve replacement. TAVR  is an alternative to open surgery for patients who are of intermediate or higher risk for open heart surgery. Learn more. Call 855-UMASS-MD (855- 862-7763) or email for appointments.

Hundreds Educated at Fall Seminar Series

seminar photo collage

Physicians from our Medical Center shared their expertise with community members at a series of educational seminars this fall.

Hundreds of community members attended the fall seminar series at the Beechwood Hotel to hear our Medical Center experts speak about shoulder issues, joint replacement, heart failure and atrial fibrillation. Many thanks to all who gave their time and expertise to make each event a big success. Our presenters included: Naomi Botkin, MD, FACC, cardiologist; Judson Brewer, MD, PhD, director, Center for Mindfulness, Brown University; Wayne Chan, MD, orthopedic surgeon; Matthew Deren, MD, orthopedic surgeon; Robert Hayward, MD, electrophysiologist; David McManus, MD, director, Atrial Fibrillation Treatment Program; and Jeffrey Shih, MD, advanced heart failure and transplant cardiologist.

Robert’s Story: How Our First VAD Implant Changed His Life

Robert Crocker, pictured with girlfriend Kathy Brosseau, is the first patient at our Medical Center to be implanted with a ventricular assist device.

Robert Crocker of Lancaster is the first patient to have a ventricular assist device (VAD) implanted at our Medical Center. Before his VAD procedure, Robert couldn’t walk and had to stay in bed due to a long history of worsening heart issues. His medical team recommended he be put on the heart transplant list; the VAD helps his heart pump blood through his body while he waits. “He’s being ‘bridged’ to a heart transplant. His heart is too weak to be able to wait,” said Leora Balsam, MD, cardiac surgeon, who performed the procedure with her team. “For patients with weak hearts, a ventricular assist device can be a long-term solution or help patients waiting to receive a transplant. The device has helped stabilize him and improve his quality of life.” Read Robert’s story in the Sentinel and Enterprise.

Attend Free High-Tech, High-Touch Heart Education Program

Technology, entertainment, design talk speaker Judson Brewer, MD, PhD, will deliver the keynote at a free heart education program on atrial fibrillation (afib)Tuesday, September 25, 6 to 8 pm, Beechwood Hotel, Worcester. An expert in mindfulness, Dr. Brewer is considered a thought leader in the field of habit change. He has been featured on 60 Minutes and BBC, as well as in Time magazine and Forbes. Dr. Brewer will be joined by Naomi Botkin, MD, FACC, cardiologist, who will speak about exercise for cardiovascular disease and afib. Also available at the event will be the opportunity to be screened for afib using novel technologies. Seminar space is limited. Light refreshments will be provided. Register today!

World’s Smallest Pacemaker Implanted at Our Medical Center

Micra, the world’s smallest pacemaker

The world’s smallest pacemaker, Micra, has made its debut at our Medical Center thanks to our heart and vascular team. Electrophysiologist Robert Hayward Jr., MD, who recently performed our first Micra implant, said, “For appropriate patients, this eliminates the need for a skin incision on the chest and for pacing leads, or wires, running from the inside of the heart to the chest.” The pacemaker is placed using a minimally invasive approach, and unlike other pacemakers, Micra is completely self-contained. It’s 93 percent smaller than conventional pacemakers, has an average 12-year battery life, and is FDA-approved for certain MRI scans. Congratulations to the heart and vascular team for bringing this technology to our patients. Watch an animation.

Register Today to Join Our Evening of Health Education Programs

Join us Thursday, May 31 at the Beechwood Hotel in Worcester for an evening of free heart and orthopedic education programs presented by expert physicians from our Medical Center. From 5:30 to 6:30 pm, orthopedic surgeon Christian DiPaola, MD will present “Why Would You Need to See a Spine Surgeon.” From 7 to 8 pm, cardiologist Ira Ockene, MD, will present “The Clock Is Ticking, So Is Your Heart – Keep It That Way.” Register online or call 855-UMASS-MD (855-862-7763) to register for one or both programs. Free parking and light refreshments will be provided.

Get ‘On The Beat’ to Learn about Heart Risks and Foot Health

In the recent edition of On the Beat, our Heart and Vascular Center shares a delicious recipe for crab cakes, urges you to take a free heart-healthy risk assessment, explains the correlation between diabetes and heart health, and highlights the importance our limb preservation team plays in foot health. The e-newsletter is designed to help keep your health on track with tips and inspiration mailed straight to your inbox. On the Beat is produced by the Marketing and Communications Department. Learn how to sign up today and read the recent issue.

Cardiac Surgery Expands Services, Increases Care Options for Patients

Dr. Balsam stands beside at VAD. (photo courtesy of Telegram & Gazette)

Our cardiac surgery program is expanding and, come spring, will offer new services that will improve the quality of life for many patients. The team, led by Jennifer Walker, MD, division chief, will begin to implant ventricular assist devices or VADs, which are mechanical pumps that support heart function and blood flow. Additionally, surgeons will begin to use an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine that takes over the work of the heart and lungs so the body can rest. In a recent Telegram & Gazette story, Dr. Walker and Leora Balsam, MD, spoke about the impact these procedures have on patients and how they allow more patients to receive care at our Medical Center.