There exists a small window of opportunity in a cardiac emergency that can spell the difference between life and death. Quick access to high-quality and cutting-edge treatments can save a patient’s life, but Staten Island residents have not always had that convenience. For years, patients needed to travel to Manhattan to receive superior cardiac treatment. Since The Heart Institute opened its doors, Staten Islanders can find that first-rate care much closer to home at Staten Island University Hospital.
This past fall, The Heart Institute welcomed Dr. Mohammed Imam, MD, FACS, FACC as their new Chair of Cardiothoracic Surgery and Executive Director. He previously served as the Chief of Cardiac Surgery at Kentucky’s leading cardiac center, Baptist Health Lexington. Dr. Imam understands the urgency when it comes to cardiac care, noting that “time is muscle.”
“You have to get care as soon as possible to decrease the severity [of a heart attack],” he explains, “The closer quality care is, the better.” And it’s not just the proximity to care that’s important, stresses Dr. Imam. “Patients do better when they’re in their own community with friends and family.”
A Revolution in Cardiac Care
In recent years, the rate of bypass surgeries has dropped as people have learned to take better care of themselves and their arteries through diet and exercise. At the same time, however, surgeries to repair aging or damaged heart valves have been on the rise. Dr. Imam brings six years of experience with transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) to SIUH. This relatively new, minimally invasive surgical procedure places a new valve in the heart via a catheter inserted through the groin. It requires no incision, no “cracking of the chest,” and no stopping of the heart as is common in traditional open heart surgeries. Not only is recovery from TAVR relatively painless, it is also significantly faster.
Dr. Imam trusts in the team of SIUH’s qualified heart specialists and believes that teamwork is the key to exceptional care. “The Heart Institute sees doctors, nurses, physician assistants, and specialists all working together on patients’ cases.” They also meet each day to discuss treatments, and hold weekly in-depth sessions for more complicated cases, he adds.
Under Dr. Imam’s leadership, The Heart Institute has received high praise from patients—the ones who matter most, he says. “We have received numerous letters from patients over the last few months complimenting us on the care they received here,” he says. “Patient satisfaction is a very good barometer for quality of care at a hospital.”
And it’s not only patients who are satisfied, local physicians are as well. More than 40 Staten Island cardiologists have recommended their patients to The Heart Institute because they know how important it is to be a part of Dr. Imam’s successful team approach to patient care.
Find out more by calling 718-226-1605, or visiting TheHeartInstituteNY.com.
The Key to Prevention
According to Dr. Imam, people are dying from heart attacks at a higher rate in Staten Island than in any other borough. While Staten Island also has the highest percentage of smokers in the city, Dr. Imam notes that diet and exercise are important factors in prevention as well. “Everybody blames their genes, but your genes only load the gun,” he explains, “your habits pull the trigger!”
It all comes down to awareness, he says, encouraging the 80/20 rule—devote 80% of your healthy lifestyle to diet and 20% to exercise. It’s quite simple, he explains: “People need to watch what they eat and take care of themselves.”
By Ashley Keegan