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Mended Hearts Brings Hope to Cardiac Patients

October 18, 2011

Cardiothoracic Surgeon Discusses New Advances in Heart Surgery at Monthly Meeting

When Trudie Mathiesen’s husband underwent open heart surgery seven years ago for a coronary bypass procedure, she felt scared and alone. Then she and her husband George received a visit from a member of Mended Hearts.

“It meant a lot to me to get some support from someone who knew what we were going through,” she said. “It was comforting knowing there was someone who could answer our questions.”

Mathiesen is now president of the local chapter of Mended Hearts, a national nonprofit organization that provides support and education to heart disease patients and their loved ones. Her husband George is one of five certified Mended Hearts visitors.

“George and I became members of Mended Hearts soon after his surgery,” she said. “Then I had a stent put in four years ago, so I’m now a heart disease patient myself.”

Mended Hearts meets monthly and the Tuesday, November 1 meeting will feature a talk by Dr. Jon-Cecil Walkes, a local cardiothoracic surgeon who is a member of the Washington Hospital medical staff. Walkes will talk about some of the new advances in heart surgery.

The meeting starts at 5 p.m. and will be held at the Conrad E. Anderson, M.D. Auditorium at 2500 Mowry Avenue (Washington West), in Fremont. To register, call (510) 494-7022.

Minimally Invasive Surgery

Walkes will discuss some of the newer surgical procedures that are offering quicker recovery times and better outcomes for people with heart disease. Some of these surgeries can even be performed without open-heart surgery, which requires surgeons to open up the chest by making a large incision and then breaking the breastbone, he explained.

“We can repair or replace the heart valve through an artery in the groin and small incision in the chest,” Walkes said. “It’s better for the patient because there is less blood loss, which means fewer blood transfusions. There is also less scaring and a decreased risk for wound infections. With minimally invasive surgery, patients are able to get back on their feet sooner.”

He will also talk about the move to perform heart surgery “off pump.” Traditionally, heart surgery was performed while the heart was stopped, referred to as “on pump” because a machine is used to pump the blood, he said. But now most heart surgeries are performed “off pump,” with the heart still beating.

“I prefer off pump because it’s better for the patient,” Walkes said. “It used to be that all bypass surgeries were done on pump, but now 90 percent are off pump, and we are seeing better results.”

Compassion and Support

“There have been a lot of advances even in the seven years since George had his surgery,” Mathiesen said. “His bypass surgery was on pump.”

She said that she and George joined Mended Hearts right after his surgery because they were so impressed with the compassion and support they received. Mended Hearts has offered hope and encouragement to heart patients and their families and caregivers for more than 50 years. The Fremont Chapter 110 was established in 1987.

At the core of the program is the accredited visiting program. Volunteers visit patients who have had bypass surgery, heart valve surgery, stent procedure, or other heart-related procedure, either in-person or by phone or over the internet.

In addition to the monthly meetings, members receive newsletters with local information and a subscription to Heartbeat Magazine, published by the national organization.

“Mended Hearts is just a great group of people,” Mathiesen said. “Having heart disease is ongoing. It’s something you always have to think about. You need to take care of yourself, eat right, and exercise. It helps to be with others who are also trying to lead a heart healthy lifestyle.”

To learn more about the Heart Program at Washington Hospital, visit www.whhs.com/heart. To learn more about Mended Hearts, visit www.mendedhearts.org or call (510) 494-7022.

 

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