A Lifetime of Heart Health Starts Here
The specialists at the Cardiovascular Institute of Aiken Regional care for your heart at any stage. Whether you're looking for diagnostic, treatment or rehabilitation services, we can help.
Find a Doctor for Cardiovascular Care
For more information about the Cardiovascular Institute of Carolina, call 803-641-5551. To make an appointment with a cardiologist, please contact our free physician referral line at 803-761-6970.
Prevention and Education
The Cardiovascular Institute encourages you to learn more about healthy lifestyle practices associated with nutrition, fitness and stress management. Becoming more informed is a major part of heart wellness and part of our role in the community is to help spread awareness of the ways you can protect your heart health. The institute offers a variety of special programs including:
- Weight Wise Bariatric Program
- Aerobic and Yoga Classes
- CPR Classes
- Support Groups
- Diabetes Education Programs
Diagnosing Heart Disease
One of the best ways to reduce the chance of heart damage is to discover the problem early. Today's advanced diagnostic capabilities allow cardiologists to use noninvasive diagnostic tests including:
- Electrocardiograms (ECGs) trace your heart rhythm and can diagnose an acute heart attack as it is happening.
- Color doppler echocardiography and transesophageal echocardiography uses sound waves to track blood flow through the heart. Physicians can gain accurate information about cardiac abnormalities from these color images.
- Holter monitoring takes the ECG a step further. By recording your heart's activity 24 hours a day, it lets your cardiologist detect irregularities.
- Treadmill stress testing measures and records the heart's electrical activity while you exercise, which allows your cardiologist to evaluate cardiovascular functions under stress.
- The Nuclear Medicine Department uses radioisotopes to help diagnose many cardiac diseases and disorders.
- Cardiac catheterization is a more invasive but relatively comfortable test that can identify the source of a heart problem. Performed in the catheterization lab at the Heart Center, the procedure involves placing a small, flexible catheter into a patient's artery. Surgeons carefully thread the catheter through the body and into the heart where they release dye. The dye produces detailed images of the heart that we can capture on videotape. This allows cardiologists to visually assess blocked, narrow arteries.
- Intravascular ultrasound, a three-dimensional sound wave device, reveals the exact size of the coronary artery associated with plaque accumulation.
The Cardiovascular Institute of Carolina offers an individualized approach to heart care. As medical technology continues to advance, the scope of heart treatment options broadens. As a testament to our goal of embracing new technology, The Cardiovascular Institute is the only area facility with EKOS technology to treat deep vein thrombosis.
Treatment selection depends on many factors, including the time that has lapsed since symptoms began and a patient's history of heart disease. Some treatments involve specialized medications, others may require surgery and some may include preventive education programs that challenge patients and their families to take on new, rewarding lifestyles. Because every patient is different, cardiologists can design an individualized path of treatment that works for you.
Thrombolytic therapy uses medications to dissolve arterial clots and let blood flow normally. The earlier the clot-dissolving drugs are used, the better chance cardiologists have of avoiding serious, irreversible heart damage.
Supplemental oxygen can be provided to the cardiac muscle during a heart attack to help the heart work easier. Medications that improve blood flow to the heart can be given after a heart attack to lower the body's demand for oxygen and treat or prevent irregular heart rhythms. Rest is another important aspect of treatment after a heart attack, especially resting the heart muscle. You can reduce strain on the heart by resting quietly in bed, and the Heart Center monitors a patient to ensure that the heart is not overtaxed.
Coronary angioplasty uses a balloon-tipped catheter that is inserted in the arteries of the heart and then inflated, compressing plaque build-up against the artery wall and letting blood flow normally. Atherectomy is the insertion and inflation of a balloon-tipped catheter. However, an atherectomy differs from a coronary angioplasty in that it removes plaque to allow proper blood flow, decreasing the risk of future blockage.
Coronary stents are small metal "cage-like" structures that act as "scaffolding" when inserted, holding a narrowed artery open so that blood can pass through freely. Coronary artery bypass surgery is a more complex procedure, which improves blood flow in blocked heart arteries, and valve surgery, which replaces or repairs damaged or scarred heart valves.
Cardiac rehabilitation is crucial to a successful recovery, so the staff educates patients on heart disease and the importance of nutrition and special activities that will restore them to health and a more active lifestyle. At the Heart Center, comprehensive individualized rehabilitation helps reduce risk for future hospitalizations. Patients complete rehabilitation in two phases. Phase two involves a program, conducted in conjuncture with the University of South Carolina, Aiken, to improve your level of physical fitness and help you return to safe, normal activity as soon as possible.