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Atrium Health Navicent Urges Community to Prioritize Cardiac Health During American Heart Month

Atrium Health Navicent Luce Heart Institute Offers World-Class Care Close to Home

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. All year long, Atrium Health Navicent provides excellent health care to help those with heart conditions live their best lives, but during American Heart Month, observed each February, the health system also asks the community to join in the effort to raise awareness for heart health.

The CDC estimates that 697,000 people in the U.S. die of heart disease each year – approximately 1 in every 5 deaths.

Although those numbers are staggering, it’s comforting to know world-class care is available close to home at the Atrium Health Navicent Luce Heart Institute. In fact, Atrium Health Navicent is one of only four hospital systems in the nation — and the only one in Georgia — to receive the triple crown of heart accreditations by the American College of Cardiology.

These designations include Chest Pain Center with Primary PCI Accreditation, Heart Failure Accreditation and Atrial Fibrillation with EPS Accreditation. Atrium Health Navicent was one of the first in the region to implement the use of the Watchman device for people with Atrial Fibrillation (AFib). Patients with AFib, which is an abnormal heart rhythm, are at risk for developing blood clots if not treated with blood thinners. Some patients can’t tolerate blood thinners, and that’s where this procedure provides lifesaving benefits.

“This procedure drastically reduces chance of stroke from AFib,” said Dr. Brandon Elmore, a structural cardiologist and medical director for the Watchman procedure at Atrium Health Navicent. “In 90 percent of patients, clots develop in the left atrial appendage located in the left upper chamber of the heart. The Watchman is a device that plugs a small area in the left upper chamber and prevents the formation of stroke causing clots.”

The Watchman procedure is one of several ways patients can get specialized care at the Structural Heart and Valve Clinic at Atrium Health Navicent, one of only two such clinics south of Atlanta, and the only one in our region to offer Transaortic Valve Replacement (TAVR). This non-surgical procedure allows a crimped-down valve to be inserted through a tube into the heart to replace a failing aortic valve. Once in place, the valve opens and functions like a healthy valve.

“This is for patients with aortic stenosis, which is a stiffening of the aortic valve. Much less invasive than open heart surgery, this procedure takes 45 minutes and includes just a small incision. Patients reach a full recovery in five to seven days, as opposed open heart surgery,” Elmore said. “From a safety standpoint, it has an excellent safety profile with a low risk of complications.”

The Atrium Health Navicent Luce Heart Institute, located at Atrium Health Navicent The Medical Center, has a helipad and quick access to Interstate 75, making it easily accessible for patients and their family members. For patients recovering from heart attacks or heart surgery, Atrium Health Navicent Heart & Vascular Care's Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) program has a multidisciplinary team of surgeons, counselors, nurses, dieticians and therapists to take care of VAD patients. It’s one of only two such programs south of Atlanta.

Deaths related to heart disease are particularly high in Georgia and the Southeast, which is why taking care of your heart through healthy habits and regular examinations is key to prevention. One of the methods physicians use to find heart disease is through an angiogram screening.

An angiogram is a scan that shows blood flow through arteries in the neck, arms and legs. The blood vessels appear on the image after a contrast dye is injected into the blood, which lights up on the scan wherever it flows.

“We can look for findings consistent with possible vascular disease before a person becomes symptomatic. Some patients may not have any symptoms, but will have early stages of blockages that they would otherwise not know about it,” Elmore said. “Angiogram screening allows us to identify those disease processes early and get patients on medications, if needed, that prevent the progression of the disease process down the road.”

To promote awareness and education about living heart healthy, Atrium Health Navicent has several events planned during American Heart Month, including angiogram screenings:

Angiogram screenings:

• Feb. 3 and 17, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Atrium Health Navicent Wellness Center, 3797 Northside Drive, Macon. Cost: $50, but free for veterans. Call 800-627-2393 to make an appointment.

• Feb. 23, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Atrium Health Navicent Baldwin, 821 N. Cobb St., Milledgeville. Cost: $50, but free for veterans. Call 800-627-2393 to make an appointment.

CPR and First-Aid Training:

• Feb. 4 and 19, 2 p.m., Atrium Health Navicent Wellness Center, 2797 Northside Drive, Macon. Registration is required. Please call 478-227-3955 for details and pricing. Instructor: LaTanya Clark, Hands to Heart Training Services, LLC.

Go Red for Women’s Heart Health:

• Feb. 14, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., City of Byron Conference Center, 401 Main St., Byron. This free will feature cardiologist Dr. Erskine James as the guest speaker. Please RSVP by Feb. 6 by calling 478-654-2002. Space is limited.

Heart Healthy Cooking Class:

• Feb. 24, 12 p.m., Atrium Health Navicent Wellness Center, 3797 Northside Drive, Macon. Cost: Free. Please RSVP by Feb. 17 by calling 478-633-7157. Space is limited.

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About Atrium Health Navicent

Atrium Health Navicent is the leading provider of health care in central and south Georgia and is committed to its mission of elevating health and wellbeing through compassionate care. Atrium Health Navicent is part of Advocate Health, which is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, and is the fifth-largest nonprofit health system in the United States, created from the combination of Atrium Health and Advocate Aurora Health. Atrium Health Navicent provides high-quality, personalized care in 53 specialties at more than 50 facilities throughout the region. As part of the largest, integrated, nonprofit health system in the Southeast, it is also able to tap into some of the nation’s leading medical experts and specialists with Atrium Health, allowing it to provide the best care close to home – including advanced innovations in virtual medicine and care. Throughout its 125-year history in the community, Atrium Health Navicent has remained dedicated to enhancing health and wellness for individuals throughout the region through nationally recognized quality care, community health initiatives and collaborative partnerships. It is also one of the leading teaching hospitals in the region, helping to ensure viability for rural health care for the next generation. For more information, please visit