Open Accessibility Menu

Cardiology & Cardiovascular Services

There Is No Need to Travel for the Best Care

Cardiology is the branch of medicine focused on the heart. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in men and women worldwide. It is also a silent killer, meaning not many people realize they have it until they suffer a heart attack or stroke.

Heart Attack Warning Signs

The symptoms of coronary disease and of heart attack can be very different in women than in men. While many people expect heart attack pain to feel like a crushing sensation in the chest, women’s symptoms may be dangerously vague. A woman might complain of stomach pain, nausea, dizziness, or sudden anxiety. This can lead to dangerous delays in seeking treatment.

Signs of heart attack (common in both men and women):

  • Uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing, or pain in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back
  • Pain that spreads to shoulders, neck or arms
  • Chest discomfort with lightheadedness, fainting, sweating, nausea, or shortness of breath

Common signs of heart attack in women:

  • Stomach or abdominal pain, or unusual chest pain
  • Nausea, dizziness, or a feeling of heartburn (acid indigestion)
  • Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing
  • Unexplained anxiety, weakness, or fatigue
  • Palpitations, cold sweat, or paleness

If you have unexplained chest pain lasting more than a few minutes, you should seek emergency medical assistance rather than trying to diagnose the cause yourself. Call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department.

Heart Disease

No matter how you live your life, you need to be vigilant about your cardiovascular health. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. This does not have to be the case, as heart disease is very treatable, but the symptoms are often unnoticeable, and most people do not realize they have it until they experience a heart attack or stroke.

Common cardiac procedures:

  • Ablation – This is a treatment for irregular heartbeats that destroys or scars the damaged part of the heart causing the malady.
  • Angioplasty – When blood flow to the heart is restricted, a doctor may recommend balloon angioplasty. In this procedure a small balloon is inserted into an artery and inflated to expand the vein and allow for better blood flow. A stent may be placed afterward to keep the artery open.
  • Rotational atherectomy – An alternative to angioplasty, this procedure opens up a valve by inserting a small rotating blade that scrapes plaque out of an artery.
  • Stent implants – When there is concern a vein may not be able to stay open on its own, a doctor can implant a stent to keep blood flowing. This is a small, wire-mesh tub that stays in place permanently.
  • Laser plaque removal – Another way to remove plaque from veins is with a precise excimer laser that blasts the buildup away and turns it into gas.
  • Holter monitor – This is a painless device the doctor attaches to your chest for 24 hours. The monitor records heart electrical activity, looking for irregular activity. You do not stay at the hospital, in fact, you must go about your normal day-to-day routine for device to get an accurate measurement.
  • Pacemaker implant – Pacemakers are small devices that correct irregular heartbeats by releasing a small electrical signal every time it detects an abnormality. They placed inside the chest through a small incision made in the chest. Most implants are intended to last a lifetime.
  • Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) – Similar to a pacemaker, an ICD is placed near the heart through an incision in the chest. They also regulate heart rhythm by monitoring for irregularities and realign a shock, but unlike a pacemaker, an ICD is capable of releasing high-energy pulses to prevent cardiac arrest.

Vascular Diseases

  • Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a blockage in blood circulation due to fatty deposits or plaque, building up in the inner linings of the artery walls. These blockages restrict blood circulation, primarily in arteries leading to the kidneys, stomach, arms, legs, and feet. Left untreated, PAD increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, amputation, or death.
  • Carotid artery disease occurs when the carotid arteries, the primary blood vessels to the brain, develop a buildup of plaque caused by atherosclerosis. When the buildup becomes severe, it can cause a stroke. If detected and treated, most strokes can be prevented.
  • Abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA) occurs when the wall of the aorta, the main artery in the chest and abdomen, progressively weakens. This causes a dilation of the vessel. If not diagnosed and treated, the aneurysm will grow larger and eventually rupture, which can be fatal. If the AAA is detected and treated, risk of rupture is very low and chances of recovery are great. The primary risk factor in developing an AAA is smoking.
  • Venous disease is insufficient blood flow from the legs back to the heart. Blood pools or congests in your legs. Undiagnosed or left untreated, the results can range from swelling and pain to severe varicose veins and eventually, ulcers and potentially life-threatening blood clots.
  • Thoracic Aneurysm – An aneurysm that occurs in the upper part of the aorta, one of the body’s major blood vessels. A surgeon needs to repair the aneurysm before it has a chance to rupture. Severe cases require open-chest surgery, but some can be treated through minimally invasive means.
  • Varicose Veins – Varicose veins are enlarged veins that you can see through the skin. They typically occur in the legs and feet. Varicose veins are sometimes painful, but not always. They typically indicate that your vascular system is weakened and you should monitor your cardiovascular health. When varicose veins are so severe that they require surgery, we can remove them in a varicose stripping procedure.

Cardiac Treatments We Offer

We are proud to offer some of the finest cardiac care in Morehead City from a team of experienced, board-certified cardiologists. Our cardiologists include Drs. Scott Ard, Michael Rave, and John Williams III. They are trained to perform a wide variety of procedures, including common surgical procedures for heart-related conditions.

Through cardiac catheterization at our Cardiac Catheterization Lab, our cardiologists can detect blocked arteries in people experiencing symptoms of a heart attack. To diagnose blocked arteries, the physician inserts a flexible tube called a catheter into the vein that supplies blood to the heart, usually through the patient’s leg. Cardiac catheterization is a useful diagnostic and therapeutic tool that can open blocked arteries (angioplasty), perform stent placement after bypass surgery or angioplasty, and implant temporary or permanent pacemakers.

Heart surgery is used to treat some of the more serious heart conditions. Victims of heart attacks often require surgery to treat the condition that led to their heart attack in the first place. Surgeries are usually preceded with diagnostic imaging tests to evaluate the heart and plan the operation.

The following are some common heart surgeries:

  • Pacemaker & ICD Implants – These implants are placed near the heart and deliver an electrical shock to the muscle when an abnormal heartbeat (arrhythmia) is detected.
  • Stenting & Angioplasty – Arteries that supply blood to the heart can narrow due to plaque buildup. The harder it is for blood to bump through the heart, the more likely it is someone will suffer a cardiac event. Angioplasty is a minimally invasive procedure where the artery is widened with a small balloon and then held open with a mesh tube called a stent.
  • Aneurysm Repair – An aneurysm is a bulge that occurs in the heart or artery when the artery wall weakens. If an aneurysm bursts, it can cause serious damage. Surgery is required to replace the aneurysm-infected part of the heart with a graft.
  • Heart Transplant – Considered a last resort treatment for patients with end-stage heart failure, heart transplants replace a diseased heart from a deceased organ donor. Waiting for a donor can take time, so patients may be given artificial hearts or ventricular assist devices to use in the meantime.

Contact Us for Cardiovascular Health Services in Carteret County

Cardiovascular services are focused on the blood vessels and arteries throughout the body that transport blood to and from the heart. The Cardiopulmonary department includes Echocardiography, EKG, EEG, Stress Testing, Pulmonary Function Testing, and Respiratory Therapy. The department works with patients throughout the hospital on an inpatient basis and provides outpatient services to the people of our community and surrounding communities.