Ingalls Integrated Heart Care Center

Know your risk of heart disease

Screenings can help detect potential heart conditions before they become a problem. That’s why we offer HeartAware for a comprehensive picture of your heart's health. This free, online assessment is a quick and convenient way to determine if you are at risk for heart disease, right in the comfort of your home or office. HeartAware also raises your awareness about heart disease through easy-to-read education material. (Start your screening now.)

In less than seven minutes, your assessment will tell you if you are at risk for heart disease. A printable report is provided at completion. If your assessment reveals three or more risk factors for heart disease, you are eligible to receive a free health screening package that includes a full lipid profile, blood glucose level and measurements of blood pressure, body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference. Afterwards, an Ingalls nurse navigator will follow up with you to discuss your results and make a plan to minimize your future risks for heart disease. For your convenience, the free health screening packages are available at several Ingalls locations.

Ingalls technology at the forefront

At the Ingalls Integrated Heart Care Center, we offer the latest technological diagnostic techniques, including:

Ingalls was among the first in the south suburbs to offer the 64-slice CT scan for the detection and management of heart disease. This non-invasive test could save your life or the life of someone you love. Using this advanced technology, our doctors can look inside the heart and its arteries for plaque and calcium build-up.

Ingalls offers a comprehensive electrophysiology (EP) program for the study of the heart’s electrical system. Used to determine the cause of heart rhythm disturbances, EP provides the critical information needed to effectively treat your condition.

The all-digital cardiac catheterization lab at Ingalls was the first and only imaging system of its kind when it was introduced. Offering exceptional clarity – even under the most challenging conditions – this state-of-the-art system allows cardiologists to view hard-to- see blood vessels and uncover potential heart problems.

What is cardiac catheterization?

Cardiac catheterization is a diagnostic procedure that provides your doctor with information that cannot be obtained by any other means. The procedure is sometimes referred to as a coronary angiogram or coronary arteriography and is simply a special X-ray test used to look at the arteries and chambers of the heart.

A cardiac catheterization is NOT surgery. It is a diagnostic study that generally takes about one to two hours to complete.

What does cardiac catheterization show?

This procedure helps doctors diagnose heart conditions such as coronary artery disease, defective heart valves, or congenital heart defects (defects you are born with). Cardiac catheterization also provides important information about the heart’s pumping function.

How do you prepare for this procedure?

There are several routine tests done before a cardiac catheterization:

  • EKG (electrocardiogram)
  • Blood tests (less than one week prior)
  • Medical history and exam
  • Chest X-ray.

You will receive specific instructions about the food you may have. Generally, may have nothing to eat or drink six to eight hours before the procedure.

Some suggestions to help you prepare:

  • Pack a small bag of overnight clothing in case your doctor decides you need to stay overnight
  • Do not bring any valuables
  • Bring a list of your medications (with exact names and dosages) that you currently take
  • Your physician or cardiology nurse will tell you which medications you may take on the day of the procedure
  • Arrange for someone to drive you home
  • Be sure to mention if you are allergic to X-ray dyes or Latex
  • Empty your bladder for your own comfort
  • You may wear your dentures, hearing aids, or glasses

What should I expect?

The procedure is done in a catheterization laboratory, sometimes referred to as a “cath lab.” Generally, you will arrive on the morning of the day of the procedure. You will possibly go home later that same day, unless you are already a patient in the hospital.

You will be awake during the procedure, which usually takes less than an hour for catheterization only. If you have a balloon angioplasty or other procedure, more time will be required.

A local anesthesia is injected and a small tube, or sheath, is inserted into the artery in your arm or leg. You may feel a little pressure.

The procedure begins when the doctor inserts a thin, flexible tube (called a catheter) through the sheath into the artery. The catheter is passed toward your heart. As this is done, the doctors and technicians check the TV monitors to follow the catheter’s movement to the heart.

Then a dye is injected through the catheter. This helps the doctor to pinpoint where the problem with your coronary arteries might be. When the procedure is finished, the doctor will remove the catheter. A nurse or technician will apply pressure for 15-20 minutes.

A bandage is placed on the site before you are returned to your room.

If the catheter was inserted in the groin, you’ll remain lying down for several hours and be asked not to move your leg. The nurses will watch you carefully, take your blood pressure, and check the site frequently to make sure there is no bleeding. You will be asked to drink a lot of fluids to flush the dye out of your system. Most people have no pain, and, in most cases, you will go home that same day.

Your doctor will return to explain the results to you. Sometimes cardiac catheterization will show that your heart is just fine. If there is a problem, your doctor will discuss all possible treatments.

What can I do when I return home?

Be sure to make arrangements to have a friend or family member drive you home.

Avoid heavy lifting, and do only light activities for a few days.

You may have a small bruise or lump the size of an olive under the skin at the insertion site. This should go away in a few weeks.

When should I call my doctor?

You should call your doctor if:

  • The insertion site bleeds
  • You feel chest pain or discomfort
  • Your arm or leg feels cold or numb
  • The bruising or swelling gets worse or increases
  • You have a fever, or signs of infection appear at the insertion site
  • You have any other unusual symptoms

What are the risks?

This is called an invasive procedure because a catheter is inserted into the body. As with any procedure of this type, there can be some risk involved. Please ask your doctor to discuss the risks and benefits so that you are fully informed.

Remember, it is important to be your own best health advocate. A good way to do that is by committing to routine physical exams and diagnostic tests as often as is recommended by your cardiac specialist. Early detection of heart disease is the key to effective treatment.

Ingalls Memorial Hospital was one of the first hospitals in the nation to offer the revolutionary “InSync” device for heart failure patients. The therapy, also known as biventricular pacing, is intended to complement standard drug treatment, along with dietary and lifestyle modifications.

In the normal heart, the heart's lower chambers (ventricles) pump at the same time and in sync with the heart's upper chambers (atria). When a person has heart failure, often the right and left ventricles do not pump together. And when the heart's contractions become out of sync, the left ventricle is not able to pump enough blood to the body. This eventually leads to an increase in heart failure symptoms, such as shortness of breath, dry cough, swelling in the ankles or legs, weight gain, increased urination, fatigue, or rapid or irregular heartbeat.

Cardiac resynchronization therapy, also called biventricular pacing, uses a special kind of pacemaker, called a biventricular pacemaker, designed to help the ventricles contract more normally. It keeps the right and left ventricles pumping together by sending small electrical impulses through the leads. This therapy has been shown to improve the symptoms of heart failure and overall quality of life in certain patients with severe symptoms that aren't controlled with medication.

A specially trained cardiologist or cardiovascular surgeon implants the InSync device, which is slightly larger than two stacked silver dollars, under the skin in the chest area. Three very thin insulated wires or leads with tiny electrodes are maneuvered through veins from the device to the heart.

Computerized tomographic angiography, also called CT angiography or CTA, is a test that combines the technology of a conventional CT scan with that of traditional angiography to create detailed images of the blood vessels in the body.

In a CT scan, X-rays and computers create images that show cross-sections, or slices, of your body. Angiography involves the injection of contrast dye into a large blood vessel, usually in your leg, to help visualize the blood vessels and the blood flow within them. Your physician may order CT angiography to help diagnose a narrowing or obstruction of the arteries, an aneurysm, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, or another vascular condition.

During the study, you will lie down on a table, which passes through a donut-shaped device. Inside the device, a machine takes X-rays in arcs around the area of your body being examined. Tissues of varying densities absorb these X-rays in varying amounts. During the CT angiogram, a dose of contrast dye will be injected into one of your veins. As the dye flows through your circulatory system, it will highlight your blood vessels on the scan. A computer will produce three-dimensional images of your blood vessels from the X-ray images and help doctors diagnose your potential problem.

The more treatment options you have, the more likely your treatment will be successful. The heart and vascular teams at Ingalls offer the latest procedures and therapies including:

  • Medical therapy – non-invasive treatment and diagnostics such as disease management with medications, education and preventative and therapeutic activities.
  • Angioplasty and stent implantation – procedures to enlarge a narrowing in a coronary artery.
  • Stent – a small stainless steel tube implanted in a blocked artery to hold the vessel open.
  • Coronary atherectomy – a procedure to remove plaque and reopen an artery.
  • Congestive Heart Failure Clinic – outpatient treatments, coordinated care and education to help reduce shortness of breath or swelling.
  • Pacemaker or defibrillator implantation – artificial electrical stimulation for significant problems with the heart’s rhythm.
  • Treatment for aneurysms. Ingalls now offers a minimally invasive alternative to open surgical repair of abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) and thoracic aortic aneurysm (TAA) called endovascular stent graft repair.
  • Treatment for arterial disease.

At Ingalls, the treatment of congestive heart failure (CHF) is about much more than providing symptom relief during hospitalization. It’s about managing a chronic disease that ultimately will help improve quality of life and prevent repeated readmission to the hospital.

That’s why Ingalls introduced a Congestive Heart Failure Clinic in early 2010. The program consists of two components: inpatient education with home-based protocols to follow for all CHF patients; and for individuals with advanced (Stage 3 or 4) CHF, referral to Ingalls Home Care and sophisticated telemedicine monitoring by a specially trained Ingalls Home Care nurse.

Patients admitted to the Home Care program not only receive regular phone calls from a Home Care nurse if their vital signs fall outside of the established parameters, they are given home-monitoring equipment to track important indicators of CHF, including weight, blood pressure, and blood-oxygen levels. The data is transmitted to Ingalls Home Care via a wireless device or telephone and communicated to the patient’s doctor. If a patient’s daily results show that his or her condition has worsened in any way, doctors are notified and new or additional treatment is initiated immediately.

Benefits of the new Home Care program include coordination of care between hospital and home; daily nursing assessment; reinforcement of self-care; improved adherence to a medication regimen; home-based therapy on how to perform daily activities and conserve energy; and transition to hospice, as appropriate.

Interventional radiologists at Ingalls, working closely with their colleagues in vascular surgery, now offer a minimally invasive alternative to open surgical repair of abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) and thoracic aortic aneurysm (TAA) called endovascular stent graft repair.

Unlike traditional surgery, which involves a large incision and lengthy recovery period, endovascular repair involves small incisions in the groin and image-guided catheter placement of a stent graft to reinforce the weakened section of the aorta and prevent rupture. While not all patients are candidates for these procedures, they are highly effective alternatives to open surgery – particularly for high-risk patients with multiple medical conditions.

Traditional surgery for treating AAA requires an incision over the abdomen to expose the aorta. The aneurysm is clamped off below the renal arteries and above the iliac arteries. A synthetic graft is then placed within the blood vessel containing the aneurysm, essentially removing the risk of future rupture. Since this is major surgery, it requires a hospital stay of seven to ten days, with full recovery estimated at six or more weeks.

For many individuals, particularly high-risk patients with many medical problems, major surgery is not an option, and until recently, there was no alternative.

During endovascular aneurysm repair, a small incision is made in the groin and a catheter is guided through the femoral (leg) artery to the aneurysm. Both X-ray guidance and intravascular ultrasound are used to measure the aneurysm and place an appropriately sized stent graft.

Within a few hours after the procedure, patients are encouraged to walk, and most are discharged within 24 to 48 hours. While some patients may not be candidates for the procedure, it is an excellent alternative to open surgery. Additional benefits include less blood loss, a faster recovery and fewer complications.

The standard treatment for TAA is open-chest aneurysm repair, but interventional radiologists at Ingalls are able to treat many thoracic and thoraco-abdominal aneurysms with endovascular stent grafting. Using a delivery catheter and X-ray guidance, the interventional radiologist places a thoracic stent graft inside the thoracic aortic aneurysm, without the need for surgery. Once placed in the correct location, the stent graft expands to fit within the diameter of the thoracic aorta and provides a new path for the blood flow.

Patients may be candidates for endovascular stent grafting if their thoracic aneurysm is five centimeters or more in size and has not ruptured. Physical characteristics of the aorta and the aortic aneurysm itself also are important factors when determining if endovascular repair is the best treatment.

As with AAA repair, interventional repair of TAA is an effective treatment that can be performed safely, resulting in lower mortality rates, faster recovery and fewer complications than those reported for open surgical repair.

To find a doctor, call Ingalls Care Connection at 708.915.CARE(2273) or click on Find a Doctor in our header above to search online.

Cardiovascular diseases claim the lives of more women each year than the next seven causes of death combined – and almost twice as many as all forms of cancer. Ingalls has long been an advocate for initiatives to raise awareness and change women's behavior about heart disease, and ultimately, save lives.

Both risks and symptoms may vary between men and women. With post-menopausal women, for example, the loss of estrogen makes it more difficult to control blood pressure and the balance of "bad" cholesterol vs. "good" cholesterol. And, in addition to men's classic symptoms, women may also experience indigestion, nausea, dizziness and pain in the shoulder blade area – symptoms frequently excused for less life-threatening conditions.

Know the steps that can prevent heart attacks, recognize symptoms and seek prompt treatment if a problem is suspected.

Ingalls offers three phases of cardiac rehabilitation to help you return to good health:

  • Phase I begins while heart patients are still in the hospital and includes education about physical activity and symptoms that require medical attention.
  • Phase II is a medically supervised outpatient exercise program at the hospital.
  • Phase III / Adult Fitness Classes are conducted at the Homewood-Flossmoor Racquet and Fitness Club in Homewood and are for anyone who has been diagnosed with a heart condition or anyone whose physician feels is at increased risk due to lifestyle or family history. An Ingalls cardiac fitness nurse or exercise physiologist is always on hand to lead exercises, take blood pressure readings and guide your workout.

Our vascular team now offers these recent state-of-the-art procedures:

  • Dialysis access - Multiple catheter techniques including LifeSite® which reduces infection caused by traditional techniques.
  • In Situ bypass - for occlusive disease of the legs which salvages the legs to prevent amputation.

Call Ingalls Care Connection to register at 708.915.CARE(2273) or check out classes in Heart & Vascular Care.

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Classes & Events

Basic Life Support (CPR)

Basic Life Support, Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Class for Health Care Providers

Basic Life Support (CPR) Recertification Class

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation re-certification class for Health Care Providers.

Your Choice Direct Screening

A variety of medical screenings that you can choose to take advantage of, even without a physician's order, which can offer peace of mind about your health, or can can help pinpoint potential issues you can address.


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