Heart and Soul
There’s a reason the heart is the symbol of love — your lifeblood flows from it and keeps you alive. As part of AdventHealth — one of the leading centers of excellence in the nation for cardiovascular care — AdventHealth Ocala, formerly Florida Hospital Ocala, is committed to providing the highest level of care for heart disease and vascular conditions. From heart care education and vascular disease screenings to advanced heart surgery and emergency heart attack treatment, we’ll take the best care of your heart and vascular system to keep your life flowing.
- AFib and Arrhythmias
An arrhythmia is simply an irregular heartbeat. The most common cause of arrhythmia is atrial fibrillation (AFib).
The average heart beats regularly at about 60 to 80 beats per minute. With atrial fibrillation, the electrical signal that controls your heartbeat becomes confused. The atrium — the upper chamber through which blood enters — begins to work independently, causing the heart to race at up to 400 beats per minute. Women are more likely than men to get AFib.
Symptoms of AFib include:
- A Rapid, Strong or Irregular Heartbeat
- Chest Pain
- Feeling Lightheaded
- Fluttery Feeling or Pounding in the Chest
- Tiring Quickly From Exercise
Risk factors for AFib include:
- Age 65 or Above
- Congestive Heart Failure
- Extreme Stress
- Excessive Use of Alcohol or Caffeine
- High Blood Pressure
The treatment for your AFib may be as simple as eliminating caffeine. If the cause is a thyroid issue, treating the thyroid will manage the AFib. Other treatment options can include medication, a pacemaker, synchronized cardioversion, or ablation. Your AdventHealth Ocala cardiologist will work with you and other specialists as needed to create a customized treatment plan.
- General Cardiology
The heart and vascular surgeons and other specialists at AdventHealth Ocala, formerly Florida Hospital Ocala, offer the latest, most advanced techniques and treatment protocols possible and will work together to create a heart disease treatment plan for your specific needs. Some of our general cardiology procedures include:
- Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Repair
- Aortic Ascending and Descending Thoracic Aneurysm Repair
- Aorta Bifemoral Bypass Graft
- Aortic-Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery
- Aortic Valve Replacement
- Atrial/Venous Fistula Repair
- Atrial/Ventricular Septal Defect Repair
- Automatic Internal Cardiac Defibrillator Insertion
- Axilo Femoral Artery Bypass Graft
- Interventional Cardiology Using Catheter-Based Techniques to Open Blocked Arteries and Improve Blood Flow
- Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) Surgery
Our advanced technology includes a digital catheterization lab, intervascular ultrasound (IVUS), intracardiac ultrasound (ICE) and state-of-the-art cardiothoracic operating rooms. Our electrophysiology lab offers fluoroscopy, computed tomography (CT) and intracardiac ultrasound, as well as pacemaker placement, cardiac ablation, cryoablation, cardiac resynchronization therapy and other advanced procedures. In our fully equipped 4-bed heart catheterization and one hybrid operation rooms, family can watch the procedure if desired from our viewing room.
- Chest Pain and Heart Attack Treatment
Our cardiac care specialists work together with other professionals to quickly determine the cause of chest pain and the best course of treatment. The most urgent concern is usually heart attack, also called myocardial infarction, when a blocked artery prevents blood flow and oxygen to enter the heart.
IMPORTANT: If you have heart attack symptoms, call 911 right away. Heart attack diagnosis and treatment often start in the emergency room or ambulance, and every second counts. Symptoms can include:
- A Choking Sensation
- A Racing or Irregular Heartbeat
- Chest Pain or Pressure That Comes From the Center of the Chest
- Difficulty Catching Your Breath or Breathing
- Excessive Sweating
- Nausea or Vomiting
- Upper Body Discomfort or Pain in the Arms, Left Shoulder, Back, Jaw, Stomach or Neck
Testing may include:
- Angiogram, or arteriogram, a catheter-assisted X-ray using contrast dye
- Cardiac stress testing, electrocardiography performed you are exercising, usually on a treadmill.
- Computed tomography (CAT scan or CT scan), a combination of X-ray and computer technology that can allow doctors to view the arteries
- Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) to identify abnormal heart rhythms or damage to the heart muscle.
The first priority in treating a heart attack is to open the blocked artery as soon as possible. Coronary angioplasty or stenting can usually accomplish this. In some cases, cardiac bypass surgery is a better option. Clot-dissolving medications called thrombolytics may also be used.
Following immediate heart attack treatment and stabilization, you may need medication to prevent further damage or another heart attack. These may include:
- ACE inhibitors to decrease blood pressure and ease the heart’s workload
- Aspirin to thin blood and reduce the risk of blood clots
- Beta-blockers to lower blood pressure and slow the heart down, decreasing its need for oxygen
- Calcium channel blockers to blood pressure and relax arteries to increase blood flow
- Heparin to thin the blood and prevent clotting
- Nitroglycerin to relieve chest pain and improve the flow of blood to the heart
Statins and other medications to lower blood fat and cholesterol levels
- Heart Valve Disease
Valve disease means one or more of the heart’s four valves, which control blood flow to the rest of your body, are not working properly. When the opening of a heart valve is narrowed and restricts blood flow, it is called stenosis. When valves stiffen, weaken or deform, causing leakage between the heart’s chambers, the condition is called insufficiency or regurgitation.
Valve disease can seriously affect blood flow to all parts of your body, and an electrocardiogram is needed to diagnose the condition. Many people with valve disease have few or mild symptoms. If you have any of these warning signs, talk to your doctor as soon as possible:
- A racing heart or odd “flip-flop” sensations
- Chest pressure or a feeling of weight in the chest when active
- Dizziness, fainting, light-headedness or feeling disoriented
- Rapid weight gain, sometimes up to several pounds in one day
- Shortness of breath when active or lying down
- Swelling in the ankles, feet or abdomen
- Weakness or excessive fatigue, even with normal activity
The main goals of treatment are to protect valves from further damage, control symptoms, and repair or replace faulty valves. Treatment may include:
- Medications to treat symptoms, slow progression, remove excess fluid from the body, treat high blood pressure or reduce the risk of blood clots
- Monitoring to ensure the condition is not getting worse
- Surgery in severe cases to repair or replace the faulty valve
- Treatment for Congestive Heart Failure
Congestive heart failure occurs when the blood leaving the heart slows down, causing a backup in the blood coming to the heart. Legs and ankles may swell, and it might be hard to breathe.
AdventHealth Ocala offers complete care for heart failure, from risk assessment to treatment and rehabilitation. Our heart failure program is fully accredited by the American College of Cardiology.
Heart failure may be caused by:
- A Build-Up of Plaque in the Artery (Atherosclerosis)
- Birth Defects
- Coronary Artery Disease
- Heart Muscle Disease or inflammation
- High Blood Pressure
- Leaky Valve in Heart
- Lung Disease
- Sleep Apnea
Treatment for congestive heart failure may include medications, such as:
- ACE Inhibitors: These lower blood pressure and reduce the heart’s workload. They can also reduce the effects of salt and water retention.
- Angiotensin II: These work the same as ACE inhibitors but without some of the side effects.
- Beta-Blockers: This drug slows the heart rate and lowers blood pressure. They can also alleviate some of the symptoms of heart failure.
- Digoxin: Increases the strength of the heart and slows the heartbeat at the same time.
- Diuretics: These can control the build-up of sodium and fluid in the body, making breathing easier.
Your physician may also recommend nitrates for chest pains, calcium blockers to lower blood pressure and increase circulation, or blood thinners to prevent blood clots from forming.
- Sports Cardiology
If you’re an athlete — professional or weekend warrior — a heart condition can put you on the sidelines. Our sports cardiology program can help you get safely back in the game.
Cardiac rehabilitation can help you return to your active lifestyle after treatment for a heart condition, and you can choose from any of our three LifeTime Wellness Centers. We offer three phases:
- Phase I - provides cardiac education while you are still in the hospital, to help you understand your condition and what to expect from recovery.
- Phase II - is outpatient cardiac education to help you with nutrition, strength training, weight management, exercise, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. You’ll also learn more about your treatment, medications, stress management and other ways to protect your heart health.
- Phase III - is a continuing medically-supervised prevention and maintenance program. (A low monthly membership fee is required for phase III.)
- Cerebrovascular Disease and Stroke
Cerebrovascular disease refers to disorders that affect blood flow to the brain, which can deprive brain cells of oxygen and cause permanent damage. Some examples are aneurysms, tangled blood vessels and stroke.
A stroke is a medical emergency that results when blood flow to the brain is interrupted and brain cells begin to die. Quick diagnosis and treatment are critical to limit permanent damage.
Symptoms occur suddenly and can include
- Confusion, Trouble Speaking or Understanding Speech
- Numbness of the Face, Arm or Leg (Especially on One Side of the Body)
- Severe Headache
- Trouble Walking, Dizziness or Loss of Balance or Coordination
- Trouble With Vision in One or Both Eyes
If you have any of these symptoms, go to a hospital immediately. Prompt treatment can change your future.
Aventhealth Ocala has been designated as a Primary Stroke Center by the Joint Commission. This designation means that we have fulfilled national standards for providing high-quality care that can significantly improve outcomes. Our stroke specialists work quickly when seconds count, and our rehabilitation team can help you overcome the effects of stroke and regain your independence.
- Vascular Disease
Diseases of the vascular system — the body’s network of blood vessels — are common, especially in older adults, and can be serious. Through prompt diagnosis and treatment, our team can help prevent vascular diseases from leading to life-threatening or life-altering situations.
An Aneurysm is a sack-like swelling that forms in the wall of an artery that has been a damaged or weakened because of high blood pressure, a hardening or narrowing of the arteries or other factors. If the aneurysm ruptures or tears, it can be fatal unless emergency surgery is performed quickly.
Aneurysms can cause back or abdominal pain, but often have no symptoms until they rupture. A rupture can cause shortness of breath, dry cough, hoarseness and a pulsing pain in the chest or head. Unruptured aneurysms are often discovered during a physical exam or when an ultra sound or computed tomography (CT) scan is ordered for other reasons. Medicare will pay for a one-time screening ultrasound of the abdominal aorta for men 65 and older.
Coronary Heart Disease develops slowly and can lead to heart attack and other serious health conditions. Over the years, plaque — made of fat, cholesterol, calcium and other substances — builds up on the artery walls near the heart. As blood flow in these arteries becomes more restricted, you may have shortness of breath and angina (chest pain that feels like someone is standing on your chest). When the artery becomes completely blocked, you may have a heart attack.
Coronary heart disease can often be managed with medication and lifestyle changes, such as eating healthy, lean foods; quitting smoking; and staying active. In some cases, surgery or other medical procedures may be needed to reopen or bypass clogged arteries.
High Blood Pressure affects 1 in 3 adults in the United States. It can lead to coronary heart disease, aneurysms, stroke, heart failure, kidney failure and other health problems. High blood pressure can cause headaches, dizziness, blurred vision and nausea, but often there are no symptoms. To protect yourself, have your blood pressure checked regularly. Medication combined with lifestyle changes can lower blood pressure and your risk for further problems.
Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) occurs when plaque builds up on the walls of the arteries that supply blood to your limbs, reducing or blocking bloodflow. PAD most often affects the legs, but can also reduce bloodflow to your head, arms, kidneys and stomach.
PAD can make walking harder work and can make it harder for foot injuries to heal, resulting in sores, ulcers and serious infections. Without prompt treatment, infections can lead to the loss of a toe, foot or leg. PAD is one of the leading causes of amputation in the United States. Finding and treating PAD early can help keep your legs healthy, lower your risk for heart attack or stroke, and save your life and limbs.
Renal Vascular Disease affects the arteries that carry blood to your kidneys. When blood flow to the kidneys is restricted, the kidney may release more of a powerful hormone called renin. This may cause a severe high blood pressure that can result in heart failure or stroke. Renal vascular disease may also lead to kidney failure and the need for hemodialysis. Symptoms may include headache or blood in the urine, and sudden high blood pressure that is difficult to control. In severe cases, renal vascular disease can cause loss of kidney function or sudden onset of heart failure.
When You Need It Most
AdventHealth Ocala has earned Chest Pain Center Accreditation from the American College of Cardiology, based on rigorous onsite evaluation of our team’s ability to evaluate, diagnose and treat those who may be experiencing a heart attack. We’re also fully accredited in care for atrial fibrillation (AFib).