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Unity Hospital

Heart & Vascular Services at Unity Hospital

Full service cardiac care in your community since 1985

Heart & Vascular Services at Unity Hospital

For more information on Heart & Vascular Services at Unity Hospital call, 1-866-4HEART2.

Unity Hospital provides a wide-range of cardiac and vascular diagnostic options and a variety of health improvement, education and patient/family support activities. In collaboration with our physicians and community partners, we strive to coordinate every patient experience along a continuum of care, providing excellent health care with uncompromising personal service.

Unity Hospital works closely with the Heart & Vascular Service at Mercy Hospital, making the combined program the top choice of Twin Cities residents receiving heart care.

Reputation

  • Highly ranked nationally for excellence in patient care outcomes.
  • Nationally recognized for innovations in care management.
  • State-of-the-art technology offered in a comfortable community hospital setting.

In the community

  • A partner in maintaining the health of the community we serve. We offer a wide variety of services to identify and minimize risk factors and maintain a healthier, more active lifestyle.
  • Our suburban locations are convenient and easily accessible -- Mercy Hospital, Coon Rapids; Unity Hospital, Fridley; Elk Ridge Health, Elk River.

Cardiac rehabilitation

Cardiac rehabilitation

We are located in the lower level of Unity Hospital.

For more information or to enroll in any of Unity's cardiac rehabilitation programs, call
763-236-3535.

Unity Hospitals' cardiac rehabilitation program helps you live a healthy, active life after a cardiac event. Cardiac rehabilitation is a carefully planned program to help people with heart disease or people with a high risk of heart disease enjoy better health through health education, counseling, and exercise training.

Our three-phase program is certified by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehab (AACVPR), and our dedicated staff will guide you through your rehabilitation. The cardiac rehab team includes:

  • Your physicians and clinic nurses
  • Cardiac rehab occupational or physical therapists 
  • Exercise physiologists 
  • Cardiac rehab nurses  
  • Consulting pharmacists 
  • Chaplains 
  • Social workers 
  • Clinical dieticians 

With a referral from your doctor, you may enter the program at any phase. Ask your doctor or nurse for more information about Unity Hospital's cardiac rehabilitation program or call us at 763-236-3535.

Inpatient cardiac rehabilitation

Phase 1 monitored inpatient

If you are hospitalized for a cardiac event, the cardiac rehabilitation team will work closely with your doctor to teach you simple exercises that help increase your physical skills. During your inpatient session your heart is monitored and a tailored program is developed that you can safely use when you are home.

Our team of professionals will also teach you and your family how to manage your condition. Cardiac rehabilitation is a critical component in rapid recovery and return to an active lifestyle.

Outpatient cardiac rehabilitation

Outpatient cardiac rehabilitation services include a variety of classes about healthy lifestyle topics, a monitored exercise program, and an un-monitored exercise program.

Phase 2 monitored outpatient

Phase 2 cardiac rehab is usually covered by insurance, but you need to contact your provider to ensure coverage. The focus of this phase is to work on physical skills to return to your normal activities and provide you with extensive education about your heart condition, your risk factors and how to incorporate changes for better health. Continuous heart monitoring and frequent vital sign assessment by the rehab staff ensures a safe exercise program of six to eight weeks, usually three time per week. In addition, we routinely update your physician on your progress.

Exercare program

Exercare is a cardiac maintenance exercise program or a community exercise program. Our professional staff check your vital signs as needed and help you set goals for a healthier lifestyle. Participants can attend education classes on topics such as nutrition, smoking cessation, medication management, stress management, and weight loss. Each staff member is ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) trained and can assist you with any emergent problem.

Heart Power

The Heart Power program is free of charge to patients who have recently been discharged from Unity Hospital with the diagnosis of heart failure. The 12-session program includes an evaluation with a nurse, education on heart failure, and a structured exercise program. Some benefits of the program include improved endurance, self-management skills, and additional support. The program also helps to reduce repeat hospitalizations.

Cardiac catheterization lab & electrophysiology services

Cardiac catheterization lab

For more information on Heart & Vascular Services at Unity Hospital call,
1-866-4HEART2.

Cardiovascular lab

Physicians and staff in the cardiac catheterization lab at Unity Hospital perform diagnostic procedures to evaluate patients with heart and peripheral vascular disease. In addition, electrophysiology studies diagnose electrical disturbances and life-threatening heart rhythms.

Cardiovascular short stay (CVSS)

The Cardiovascular Short Stay unit provides care for individuals having a CV and electrophysiology lab procedures. It also provides nursing support for individuals needing an external cardioversion procedure, transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE), echocardiograms requiring contrast injections and Tilt studies.

What to expect during your stay in the cath lab

After being prepared for your procedure on Cardiovascular Short Stay, you will be brought into the cardiovascular and electrophysiology Lab procedure room. The staff will introduce themselves and explain what you can expect to occur during the time you are there.

Most procedures last about an hour, but some are longer depending on the type and number of procedures. You will need to lie down on a narrow table during the procedure. The table is narrow to allow the camera to get close enough for the best photos. The staff will help you get comfortable by offering arm rests, pillows and medication if needed. Warm blankets will also be offered to you since the procedure rooms are kept cool to allow proper functioning of the computers, monitors and photo equipment.

Your family members may wait in the cardiovascular waiting room while your procedure is done, and they will be updated of your status by our staff.

Once you are comfortable, the staff will begin preparing you for the procedure. Your groin area will be cleaned with an antiseptic solution. The staff will then cover you with a sterile drape from your chin past your toes. This will make your lap a sterile area for the cardiologist and scrub assistant.

You will be awake during the procedure because you need to tell us if you are comfortable, feel ill or if you need something. The lights will go off in the room when we are ready to take pictures. A darkened room helps the cardiologist and staff better see the pictures being taken.

We may ask you to take deep breaths or to hold your breath as pictures are taken. You will be given a picture of your procedure to take home with you. After the procedure, you will be taken back to cardiovascular short stay for observation and recovery.

Diagnostic procedures

Cardiac catheterization is used to diagnose heart conditions such as coronary artery disease, diseases of the electrical conduction system and diseases of the heart valves and the heart muscle.

During the procedure, specific types of catheters can be inserted through a small incision in the groin or arm and advanced through the blood vessels until it reaches the heart. Depending on the type of procedure being done, the catheter can be used to place dye in the coronary arteries to detect blockages, to place dye in the left ventricle to determine how well the heart is pumping and how well the valves are working, and to obtain electrical recordings of the heart beat.

Cardiac diagnostic procedures include:

  • Coronary angiogram
  • Myocardial biopsy
  • Electrophysiology studies
  • Tilt studies
  • Permanent pacemaker placement
  • Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) placement
  • Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) stenting
  • Carotid stenting
  • Peripheral angiogram and intervention

Cardiac diagnostic testing

If your doctor has asked you to schedule a test, call the MCC scheduling line at
763-236-9450.

Unity Hospital and Metropolitan Cardiology (MCC) offer a complete range of diagnostic services to help physicians evaluate a your heart function and determine a plan of care.

All tests are performed at Unity Hospital's Cardiac Diagnostic Center, located on the east third floor of the hospital. Maps and directions to Unity are available.

Tests performed at Unity Hospital include...

Echocardiogram (Echo)

An echocardiogram (echo) is an ultrasound study of your heart muscle, heart valves and pericardium (sac surrounding the heart) and some of the major blood vessels connected to the heart. The test uses sound waves to see how well your heart is working.

A wand-like instrument makes the sound waves. As the wand is moved over your chest, pictures of the heart appear on a screen and are recorded.

You may be asked to lie in different positions on a bed or stretcher. The echo technician will place electrodes on your chest and may need to reach closely across your chest to get good echo pictures. The test takes 30-45 minutes.

Echocardiogram with bubble study

A bubble study can be used to add information to a regular echocardiogram or to a transesophageal echocardiogram. The most common reason for doing a bubble study is to look at the wall (septum) that divides the heart down the middle.

A bubble study works by injecting saline (salt water) solution into your veins and then performing an ultrasound image as it flows through your heart. This test will take about 30 minutes added to an echocardiogram. (See echocardiogram for further information.)

Echocardiogram with a contrast agent

Using a contrast agent can improve the quality of pictures obtained during an echo or a stress echo. This may help the physician to better interpret or read your echo images. To give the contrast agent, a nurse will place a small intravenous (IV) catheter in a vein that will be removed when the test is completed. A small amount of the contrast agent is slowly injected and flushed with saline. One or more doses may be needed and you will be monitored after the test for approximately 30 minutes. (See Stress Testing and Echocardiogram for more information.)

Stress echocardiogram

A stress echocardiogram (echo) measures how well your heart responds to exercise. It is similar to an echocardiogram, and is used to record images of your heart before and after exercise. The test takes 60 minutes.

Dobutamine stress echocardiogram

If you have a physical problem that prevents you from walking on a treadmill, your physician may order a stress echocardiogram using a medication called dobutamine. Dobutamine will cause your heart rate to slowly increase and your heart to pump harder, simulating how your heart responds to exercise. The test takes 60 - 90 minutes.

Transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE)

A transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) obtains images of your heart from a small ultrasound probe (about the size of a normal piece of food) at the end of a small flexible tube that you swallow. The TEE gives excellent pictures of the heart because the heart lies in front of the esophagus.

Do not eat or drink anything for six hours before the test. It is important that you ask your doctor for instructions about taking your medicines.

You will be given medicine to help numb the back of your throat. This will make swallowing the tube easier. You will also be given sedating medicine through an intravenous (IV) line that will help you relax and decrease your gag reflex.

This test requires 1-1/2 to two hours to complete. You will need a responsible adult who can drive you home and stay with you for 12 hours after the test.

EKG or ECG

An electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) is a recording of the electrical activity of your heart. Small, sticky patches are placed on your chest, arms and legs. These patches are connected to a machine that records the electrical activity of your heart, then prints this out on paper for a physician to interpret. The test usually takes less than 15 minutes to complete.

Stress testing

An exercise stress test is an electrocardiogram (EKG) taken and analyzed while you are walking on a treadmill. You will be monitored during the test as the speed and elevation of the treadmill changes to make the heart work harder. Your blood pressure is also checked periodically through the test to see how it also responds to exercise. You are allowed to rest afterward and are given drinks of water at the end of the test.

You will want to wear comfortable clothes and tennis shoes to exercise on the treadmill and will be asked to not eat or to drink nothing except water within two hours. Your physician will also ask that you not take certain medications, such as your blood pressure or heart rate medications. Please check with your physician on these orders. This test takes about one hour to complete.

Nuclear myocardial perfusion imaging

Exercise stress test

This is also known as a Cardiolite stress test. This test allows your doctor to see if your heart muscle is getting the amount of blood that it needs through your coronary arteries.

There are two parts to the test, a "stress" portion and a "rest" portion. Images of your heart will be taken with each portion. A small amount of a safe radioactive medicine, needed for the images, will be injected into your arm for both portions of the test.

For the "stress" portion, you will walk on a treadmill until you reach a target heart rate. The medicine will be injected into your IV as you walk on the treadmill. After a short wait, you will lie on the exam table while a camera takes images of your heart.

For the "rest" portion, you will receive an injection of the radioactive medicine and have images taken.

Comparing the "stress" and "rest" images will help your doctor evaluate any areas where blood flow may be decreased to your heart muscle.

The complete test may take one to two days to complete. You will know when your appointment is scheduled if it will be one or two days.

If you are taking medicines, talk with your doctor about which ones you may take before each portion of the test.

Nuclear myocardial perfusion imaging with adenosine or dobutamine

If you cannot walk on a treadmill or cannot walk long enough, your doctor may order this stress test to be done with a special medicine, rather than exercise. The medications are given intravenously (through an IV). The imaging portion of test is the same as an exercise-based test.

Holter monitoring

Your doctor may want to observe your heart rhythm during your normal, everyday activities. For this test you will wear a small, portable EKG machine on a belt or shoulder strap for 24 hours. You will be asked to keep a diary of your activities and any unusual feelings that you have such as a fast heart rate, shortness of breath, chest pressure or chest pain.

MUGA (Multiple Gated Acquisition) scan or radionuclide ventriculography

This test will help your doctor see how well your heart is pumping. A very low dose of radioactive medicine is injected into your IV. Using a computer and a sensitive radiation detector, the radiation within your heart is measured and displayed on a video monitor. Before and after the test, you may eat and drink as usual and take your medicines.

Resources

  • Helping Your Heart -- a Handbook for Patients and Families, 2nd Edition, Allina Health
  • Patient education brochures:
    Ejection Fraction/Wall Motion Analysis (MUGA), The Cardiac Centers, Mercy & Unity Hospitals, May 2002
    Stress (Treadmill) Test and Stress Echocardiogram, The Cardiac Centers, Mercy & Unity Hospitals, June 2002
    Dobutamine Stress Test, The Cardiac Centers, Mercy & Unity Hospitals, June 2002
    Echocardiogram, The Cardiac Centers, Mercy & Unity Hospitals, June 2002
    Myocardial Perfusion Imaging (Stress, Persatine, Adenosine or Dobutamine Cardiolite), The Cardiac Centers, Mercy & Unity Hospitals, June 2002
  • Stress Testing: Principles and Practice, Ellestad, Myrvin H., 5th edition, Oxford University Press, 2003
  • Primary Cardiology, Braunwald, Eugene; Lee L Goldman, 2nd Edition, W.B. Saunders, 2003

Cardiovascular surgery

Cardiac surgery

For more information on Cardiac surgery, please call
1-866-4HEART2.

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Unity Hospital provides excellent cardiovascular diagnostics. If surgery is needed, many patients choose to be treated at Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids or other Allina Health hospitals in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Mercy's surgery program has gained national recognition for quality.

Mercy's cardiovascular surgical team consists of highly trained professionals who tailor the experience for each patient and family. We know that having cardiovascular surgery is a life event, and we strive to blend state of the art technology, caring staff and a focus on customer service toward the best possible experience for our patients and their families. Whenever possible, patients and family meet one on one with a cardiac nurse a few days before surgery. The cardiac nurse explains the procedure, what to expect after the surgery and answers questions. Pre-operative tests and paperwork are done at this time to make the day of surgery more relaxed for the patient.

Mercy offers a full range of surgical procedures including:

  • Heart valve surgery
  • Coronary artery bypass surgery
  • Peripheral vascular surgery (carotid, abdominal and legs)
  • Aortic surgery: open (chest and abdomen)
  • Aortic surgery: minimally invasive (endovascular stent)
  • Lung surgery
  • MAZE - minimally invasive surgery for atrial fibrillation

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