Innovating Heart Care at Wuesthoff Heart Center

Heart disease is the leading cause of death and a major cause of disability in the U.S. Approximately 84 million people in this country suffer from some form of cardiovascular disease, causing about 2,200 deaths a day, averaging one death every 40 seconds, according to statistics released by the American Heart Association.

The heart is the hardest working muscle in the human body. At an average rate of 80 times a minute, the heart beats about 115,000 times in one day or about 42 million times in a year. For these reasons and more, taking care of your heart is of vital importance.

The Wuesthoff Heart Center’s heart care specialists offer state-of-the-art diagnostic, imaging and treatment services, delivering a full spectrum of heart care.

Heart Care services include:
■    Cardiothoracic/thoracic surgery
■    Cardiovascular diagnosis and imaging
■    Heart failure care
■    Interventional cardiology
■    Heart rhythm disorders
■    Vascular medicine
■    Heart and vascular rehabilitation


wuesthoff4A heart-rhythm disorder, known as an arrhythmia, is characterized by an abnormal heart beat — too fast, too slow, or uneven. Many arrhythmias don’t pose a serious health danger, but for patients who require treatment, Wuesthoff Heart Center’s arrhythmia specialists have the training and expertise to provide advanced care.

To meet the growing volume of patients requiring electrophysiology (EP) treatments related to heart rhythm issues, Wuesthoff Health System recently expanded the EP Lab at its Rockledge medical facility. At nearly double its original size, the EP Lab features the latest equipment and infrastructure to allow physicians to perform leading-edge EP procedures. The expansion of the EP Lab is part of an overall renovation, an enhancement of the Cardiac Cath Lab Department at Wuesthoff Medical Center-Rockledge. In all, the department includes two Cath Labs, the EP Lab, a recovery and observation area and various equipment, monitoring and supply rooms.

Dr. Stephen Watts, who has worked with Wuesthoff for 20 years, was instrumental in establishing Wuesthoff’s EP Lab nearly two decades ago and is now thrilled to take advantage of the new technology that will be available with the expansion. “The new facility has state-of-the-art technology,” said Dr. Watts. “We’ll have better imaging using less radiation with 3D mapping.”

Electrophysiology is a branch of cardiology that manages complex cardiac arrhythmias through the use of implantable pacemakers, cardioverter-defibrillators, and other interventional techniques and treatments.  It examines the electrical activity and the electrical pathways of a patient’s heart to determine the cause of any heart-rhythm disturbance and the best treatment options available.
Included in the renovation of the EP Lab is the installation of advanced infrastructure and equipment including the latest echo/ultra sound machine that allows electrophysiologists to precisely thread catheters to a patient’s heart where they then can sense the electrical activity and evaluate the heart’s conduction system.
wuesthoff3A Team Approach
In addition to Dr. Watts, the electrophysiologist team also includes Nancy Jean Johnson, MD, and Jason Foreman, DO, MPH, who recently joined the practice. A Satellite High graduate, Dr. Foreman came back to his hometown to provide specialized treatment for conditions including ventricular and supraventricular tachycardia, atrial fibrillation and other forms of arrhythmia.

“It’s an outstanding opportunity to come back to my hometown and provide care within the community I grew up in,” said Dr. Foreman.

The opportunity includes working in the new lab at the Rockledge medical facility, which will offer the latest equipment, of particular note is the computerized 3D mapping. “We can minimize the radiation dose,” said Dr. Nancy Jean Johnson. “That’s why modern equipment is so important.”

The facility’s two Cath Labs, which include the latest cardiac catheterization technologies and equipment as part of the renovation, provide a variety of diagnostic imaging services related to pressure and blood flow within the heart.

In some cases, heart disease can be treated using minimally invasive interventional cardiology techniques. Wuesthoff Heart Center’s board certified interventional cardiologists use a variety of advanced catheter-assisted techniques to treat heart disease.

When medicine or less invasive options aren’t the best option for the patient, cardiovascular and thoracic surgeons are well equipped to perform a wide range of surgical treatment options, from open-heart surgery to minimally invasive procedures. The latest surgical options to treat cardiovascular disease include:

■    Aortic aneurysm surgery
■    Congenital heart disease repair
■    Coronary artery bypass grafting
■    Cardiac arrhythmia surgeries, including defibrillator and pacemaker implantation
■    Heart valve repair and replacement
■    Minimally invasive vein harvesting
wuesthoff2Better Technology, Better Results

Dr. Sims is a board-certified cardiothoracic surgeon who completed his medical degree at New York Medical College. While less open heart surgeries for coronary artery disease are being performed per year, surgeries have also improved because smaller incisions can be made and some bypass surgeries can be done without a heart lung machine.

“Take care of yourself so you don’t need open heart surgery.”

Dr. Bill Sanabria is a board-certified cardiothoracic surgeon who completed his medical degree at the University of Miami School of Medicine. He lauds the technology available at Wuesthoff and how it has changed heart care. “Better technology, better results,” Dr. Sanabria said. “This is a changing field and we can evolve with it.”

Dr. Srinivas Prasad, who is board certified in general cardiology, interventional cardiology and nuclear medicine and is also a fellow of the American College of Cardiology, is a general cardiologist as well as an interventional and peripheral vascular interventionalist who has been with the Brevard Cardiology Group and Wuesthoff Hospital for 10 years. “There have been a lot of advances in medications and to date, for a majority of conditions, medications are either equivalent or superior to interventional procedures. However, there are still many instances when medications fail and Wuesthoff offers the best interventional options when patients need it the most” said Dr. Prasad.

Dr. Prasad discusses the importance of preventative care with all his patients including:
■    Adequate blood pressure control for hypertensive patients
■    Making sure that diabetes is controlled — if they have it
■    Smoking cessation
■    Diet and exercise and staying within the normal range of the Body Mass Index

“These are the main risk factors,” Dr. Prasad said. “Mitigating these risks will help improve quality and quantity of life.”

Comprehensive Cardiac Rehabilitation Program
After diagnosis and treatment, the Wuesthoff Heart Center offers a comprehensive cardiopulmonary rehabilitation program that combines education, support and exercise therapy. Patients learn how to incorporate heart healthy habits such as a proper diet, exercise and stress management techniques that can improve their quality of life. Debbie Whitnable, RN Manager, who has been with Wuesthoff for 29 years explains this combination of education and support increases confidence and motivates patients.

“Education is the key to prevention. Our program is individually tailored to our patients needs.”

Patients begin a medically supervised, monitored exercise program that includes individual training from exercise professionals. Patients are educated on heart healthy nutrition, stress management techniques and how to incorporate these behaviors into their lifestyle.


■    Joint Commission accredited hospital
■    Accredited Chest Pain Center
■    Get With the Guidelines Stroke Gold Plus Award
■    Get with the Guidelines Heart Failure Gold Plus Award
■    Get With The Guidelines Platinum Performance Achievement Award 2015, American College of Cardiology’s National Cardiovascular Data ACTION Registry
■    American Heart Association Mission: Lifeline Silver Award 2015 for the Care of STEMI Patients


Heart Care Services include:
■    Cardiothoracic/Thoracic Surgery
Cardiovascular and thoracic procedures, from minimally invasive to open-heart surgery

■    Cardiovascular Diagnosis & Imaging
Advanced diagnostic and imaging technology to determine the type and extent of heart disease

■    Heart Failure Care
Comprehensive heart failure care with the latest treatment options

■    Interventional Cardiology
Minimally invasive techniques to unblock arteries and improve blood flow

■    Heart Rhythm Disorders
Specialized diagnostic and treatment services for state-of-the-art arrhythmia care

■    Vascular Medicine
Expert care for conditions that affect the arteries and veins

■    Heart and Vascular Rehabilitation
Cardiac recovery services that combine education, support, and exercise therapy

Wuesthoff Health System provides all aspects of heart care including prevention, diagnostics, treatment, open heart surgery and rehabilitation. Wuesthoff Medical Center-Rockledge was the first hospital in Florida and second in the nation to receive a Gold Seal of Approval™ from the nation’s leading healthcare standards-setting organization, The Joint Commission for coronary artery disease care. For more information, visit Wuesthoff.com