Minimally invasive techniques are used for a variety of cardiovascular procedures, including coronary bypass surgery, atrial septal defect or mitral valve replacement, as well as mitral valve repair. An overwhelming number of surgeries involve mitral valve repair, Katz says. “I use [the minimally invasive procedure] more for that than anything else,” Katz says.
The surgery allows for shorter length of stays and recovery times than those with open heart surgery and is similar to those for minimally invasive abdominal surgery, he says. Overall, there is anticipated decreased LOS, with two to five days after minimally invasive surgery, compared to seven to 10 days for traditional heart surgery. While recovery time for traditional surgery is about eight to 12 weeks, the minimally invasive surgery would be one to four weeks.
Although Bon Secours doesn’t have a separate women’s cardiovascular unit, it has established a subcommittee that evaluates women’s issues, and oversees the mitral valve surgery planning, says Katz; he anticipates continual growth in the program.
Across the country, hospitals are working to improve education programs that are designed to help women recognize potential cardiac illnesses by using the Internet, new screening models, or partnering with the American Heart Association. While the programs are drawing many more patients into primary care and to hospitals, more needs to be done, especially in targeting the needs of black and Hispanic populations.
Saint Thomas Hospital is involved in the AHA’s Go Red For Women campaign, a national initiative designed to improve patient education about cardiovascular care for women.
“We have many touch points to reach out to the community,” says Rudolph. “We want to make sure the education is pervasive, and our cardiologists are out there. We engage women upon the importance of
taking care of their heart and recognizing what they need to do to live a healthy lifestyle.”