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Henry and Clayton centers focus on the heart

By Jaya Franklin

jfranklin@henryherald.com

Jeffery Feltman, a 45-year-old maintenance mechanic, from Locust Grove ,became concerned when he started getting sharp chest pains one day while on the job.

"It scared me. It was the very first time that I felt something like that," said Feltman, who drove himself to Henry Medical Center in Stockbridge for help.

"After running tests, the doctor told me that I have two blockages in my right artery," said Feltman. The mechanic said he wants to improve his health, so he is going to stop smoking, drinking alcohol, and eating fatty foods.

Feltman is an outpatient in the hospital's cardiovascular services center. The heart center has nine private rooms for patients following the completion of their heart procedures. The recovery rooms include a flat screen television, a bed, a phone and emergency gases.

The center also has a Cardiac Catheterization Lab, where digital X-rays are taken. The lab includes over $2 million in state-of-the art equipment. The computer equipment allows doctors and nurses to compile an event log on the patient being treated. Last year, the center performed more than 3,200 procedures in the cardiovascular service center.

"The computer tracks rhythms, EKG's and measurements in the body. We can go back and reference this information if needed," said Kelly Dombrowski, manager and acting director of cardiovascular services.

According to the American Heart Association, one American dies of cardiovascular disease every 35 seconds. Clayton County's Southern Regional Hospital is aware of this statistic and has also increased its services to meet those needs. The hospital performs more than 1,600 cardiac catheterizations and 250 angioplasties each year. The procedures help restore blood flow to the heart. The hospital also has a computerized tomography scanner that takes X-rays in real time, and can even scan between heartbeats.

"The 64-slice CT scanner further improves the way cardiac patients are managed here," said Donna Waggoner, managing director of Southern Regional's Heart and Vascular Service Line and Clinical Laboratory. "It helps turn an already cutting-edge, full-continuum chest pain center into an even better one," she said.

Heart disease does not just affect senior citizens, said Henry Medical's Dombrowski. It is becoming a regular occurrence in young people everyday. The youngest heart disease patient she has treated was a 21-year-old, who had contracted the disease through the use of cocaine.

"[Contracting heart disease] could be medication induced," she said. "Street drug use and muscle enhancers, can all cause heart disease," added Dombroski, who believes that younger people are seeking help in regard to heart problems because of the education materials that are available to inform them about the symptoms of the disease.

The HMC cardiovascular service center can help people with heart problems in several ways, including stress tests, electrocardiograms, defribillators, pacemakers, replacing dialysis cathers and more.

Some of the symptoms of heart disease include, shortness of breath, chest pains, sweating, nausea and vomiting.