Heart disease includes a group of medical conditions affecting your heart or circulatory system, or any of the vessels that carry blood throughout your body. Having a heart condition can be scary, but you can take comfort knowing that there is comprehensive, expert care close to home.
At St. Francis Medical Center, our heart care program serves patients throughout southeast Los Angeles County. Our team of physicians, surgeons and specially trained nurses deliver lifesaving treatments, compassionate care and hope to patients with all types of heart conditions.
Highlights of Our Program
- Focus on Your Needs
- Our entire team is focused on providing you with an excellent patient experience. We take the time to explain any tests you may need and work together to help you make health care decisions. Our team is bilingual (English and Spanish), so you can receive important information about your care in your preferred language.
- Designated Heart Attack Care Center
- The Emergency Medical Services Agency of the County of Los Angeles Department of Health Services designated St. Francis as a STEMI (Heart Attack) Receiving Center because of our superior care for ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI). STEMI is the most dangerous form of heart attack. Our receiving center recognition means that we meet strict standards for treating STEMI patients as quickly as possible. Our heart specialists and STEMI team deliver live-saving care to over 200 patients every year.
- Exceptional Care for Critically Ill Patients
- We are one of few programs in the community with experts dedicated to meeting the unique needs of seriously ill patients, including patients who have suffered a heart attack or are recovering from surgery. Our critical care physicians (intensivists) deliver specialized care that can help you recover faster and with fewer complications. Find out more about our intensive care/critical care unit.
- Quick Access
- Even if you are not having an emergency, we try to see you as quickly as possible. If you are having an urgent issue, some of our services, including examinations in our cardiac catheterization lab, are available the same day. Find out more about our cardiac catheterization lab.
- Advanced Care
- Our goal is to give you the best possible chances for a good outcome, which is why we offer tests and treatments that are not widely available at other local hospitals. We are one of few programs offering advanced cooling treatments for ROSC patients that protect heart attack patients from serious complications.
Comprehensive Heart Care at St. Francis
Our comprehensive approach helps you get routine tests, expert recommendations and advanced treatments in one convenient location.
Heart Services Available at St. Francis
- Heart Testing
- We offer a wide range of heart tests to accurately diagnose your condition and determine the treatments that will best meet your needs. Find out more about testing and monitoring.
- Heart Rhythm (Arrhythmia) Care
- If you have an abnormal heartbeat, your heart may have to work harder than normal to supply the rest of the body with blood and oxygen. Our arrhythmia experts offer a broad range of treatments, including implantable devices and special procedures to keep your heart beating at a normal pace.
- Cardiac Catheterization
- This procedure uses thin tubes (catheters) and sophisticated tools to examine the fine details of your heart and surrounding structures. If you need treatments, we can often deliver them during the same procedure. Read more about our cardiac catheterization program.
- Heart Surgery
- Sometimes the most effective treatment for a heart condition is a surgical procedure. With dedicated heart surgery operating rooms and a team of experts who specialize in heart surgery, we help you achieve the best possible outcome. Learn more about having heart surgery at St. Francis.
- Peripheral artery disease (PAD) Care
- We deliver comprehensive testing, diagnosis and treatment for PAD. This condition happens when narrowing of the arteries reduces blood flow to other parts of the body. Successful treatments lower your risk for more serious conditions, including stroke and heart attack.
Experiencing the symptoms of a heart condition can be frightening, which is why we’re here to help. With comprehensive testing services at St. Francis Medical Center, we quickly get to the source of your symptoms so you can feel better and avoid complications.
At St. Francis Medical Center, we offer nearly any diagnostic test you could possibly need, including round-the-clock monitoring (telemetry) for patients who may be at risk for a heart attack. Even if you are not experiencing an emergency, our goal is to help you get prompt, accurate testing, so we can deliver the best possible care.
Highlights of Heart Testing Services
- Convenient care
- Your peace of mind is important to us, which is why we take extra steps to make heart testing easy and convenient. All heart tests at St. Francis are available under one roof. Many members of our team are bilingual (speaking both English and Spanish), which can make it easier for you to understand which tests you need. We also offer early morning and weekend hours for some tests, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
- Immediate testing for heart attack patients
- As a designated STEMI (Heart Attack) Receiving Center, we deliver lifesaving tests and treatment to over 200 patients every year. We are one of few programs in southeast Los Angeles County providing immediate testing and care to patients with ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), a serious form of heart attack. If you are experiencing a STEMI, we bring you to one of our 3 dedicated procedure rooms (cardiac catheterization labs) for immediate testing and treatment. Learn more about cardiac catheterization.
- Advanced testing:
- We offer tests that are not widely available at other local hospitals, such as transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE). This test uses a special device to examine the heart and surrounding structures during heart surgery. TEE helps us confirm your surgery goes precisely as planned. This way, we can ensure the success of your procedure before you leave the operating room. Find out more about heart surgery.
- Latest technology
- We use all the latest testing equipment, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners that are specially designed for your comfort and deliver crisp digital images in seconds.
- Your safety is at the center of everything we do. We use the best available technologies, including digital X-ray systems, which reduce radiation exposure and the need for additional or unnecessary testing. For our commitment to maintaining high safety standards, we have received recognition from the American College of Radiology, a national professional organization for imaging services. Learn more about imaging services.
Heart Tests We Offer at St. Francis Medical Center
As part of our comprehensive approach, we offer a wide variety of heart tests. Heart tests available at St. Francis include:
Stress tests show us how your heart responds to physical stress, such as exercise, which makes your heart work harder than normal. During a stress test, we measure heart activity both during and after physical activity.
Stress tests include:
- Walking stress test During a walking stress test, we take pictures of your heart while you walk on a treadmill at a steady, comfortable pace.
- Nuclear stress test Nuclear stress tests measure blood flow to your heart using trace amounts of a radioactive substance.
- Medication (Pharmacological) Stress Test If you cannot exercise due to a medical condition, we give you medication to simulate the effects of exercise.
Imaging tests are quick, painless tests that use special technologies to take pictures of your heart and surrounding structures. Imaging tests are noninvasive, meaning there require no needle sticks or incisions. We use imaging tests to help us pinpoint blocked arteries and meticulously plan your treatment. Read more about imaging services.
Imaging tests include:
- Echocardiograms (echo)
- Electrocardiogram (EKG)
- Transesophageal echocardiography (TEE)
- Cardiac computed tomography (CT)
- Evaluations for heart devices such as pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs)
- Cardiac impedance (impedance cardiography), which measures your heart’s ability to push blood out to the rest of the body
Invasive Cardiac Tests
Invasive tests help us examine the heart and surrounding structures more closely than imaging tests. During an invasive test, we make a tiny incision in your wrist or groin and use extremely thin, tubes (catheters) to examine your heart and surrounding structures. Learn more about cardiac catheterization.
Invasive cardiac tests include:
- Diagnostic catheterization During a diagnostic catheterization procedure, we conduct one or more tests to examine the structures and functioning of your heart. We use this information to confirm or rule out a specific diagnosis, such as heart valve problems.
- Intravascular Ultrasound This test uses sound waves (ultrasound) to examine your blood vessels for blockages.
If we are not able to determine what is causing your symptoms, we may use cardiac monitoring to learn more. Cardiac monitoring allows us to observe how well your heart is working and measure how much blood and oxygen it is sending to the rest of the body.
Cardiac monitoring services include:
- Telemetry An inpatient test for seriously ill patients at risk of having a heart attack
- Holter Monitors Small, battery-powered devices that record your heart’s electrical activity while you go about your daily activities
Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) Testing
We offer a range of tests to accurately pinpoint potential narrowing in the arteries that supply blood flow to your brain, heart, organs and limbs. Testing may be helpful if you start experiencing the symptoms of PAD, such as pale skin and sores on your leg and feet that do not heal well.
Tests for PAD include:
- Angiography, which is an imaging technique for examining the blood vessels
- Blood tests
Minimally Invasive Heart Treatment at St. Francis
You may be surprised to learn that we perform many heart (cardiac) procedures through tiny incisions in your wrist or groin. Cardiac catheterization is a nonsurgical technique that uses thin tubes (catheters) along with sophisticated tools and imaging equipment to access and treat heart problems.
At St. Francis Medical Center, we offer an experienced team of experts and an array of treatments including cardiac catheterization, helping you get the care you need close to home. Our team performs more than 600 catheterization procedures a year. This depth of expertise means we can give you the best chances for a good outcome. Our goal is to get you back to your normal routine, as quickly as possible.
Cardiac Catheterization: Our Approach
Our team includes interventional cardiologists, physicians with years of expertise and special training in cardiac catheterization. We offer 3 dedicated cardiac catheterization procedure rooms (cath labs) with all the latest equipment. In these cath labs, you receive prompt access to care, as quickly as the same day, if needed. You can feel confident knowing you are in the hands of seasoned experts.
Highlights of Our Program
- Emergency Treatment for Heart Attack Patients
- As a designated STEMI (ST-elevation myocardial infarction) Heart Attack Receiving Center, we are one of few programs in the community capable of providing immediate and effective care to STEMI patients. STEMI is the most dangerous form of heart attack and is often life-threatening. If you experience a STEMI, our interventional cardiologists quickly deliver lifesaving treatment by opening blocked arteries and restoring proper blood flow to the heart.
- Testing and treatment, all in one procedure
- Cardiac catheterization allows us to examine your heart and often fix the problems all in one procedure. For example, if certain areas of the heart are not receiving adequate blood flow, we perform tests such as endovascular ultrasound to pinpoint potential blockages. If we find a blockage, we may be able to fix it right away, which would reduce your chances of needing additional procedures.
- Personalized Treatments
- We do everything possible to help you have a good experience. If catheterization is right for you, we develop a customized plan to meet your unique health needs. Our bilingual (English and Spanish) staff sits down with you to explain how a catheterization procedure can help. We take the time to answer any questions you may have.
- Seamless Care
- In the rare event that we are not able to complete your procedure using catheterization, we work seamlessly with the heart surgery team to perform open heart surgery. Our operating rooms are just down the hall from the cath labs, which means you may be able to have the surgery on the same day. Learn more about heart surgery.
- Special care for abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmia)
- We deliver specialized care for arrhythmias with the help of physician experts known as electrophysiologists. Our team has more than 20 years of experience with devices such as pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators (AICDs) that can help you maintain a more normal heart rhythm.
Cardiac Catheterization: What to Expect
We use catheterization procedures to deliver lifesaving tests and treatments while you rest comfortably on a special table. You can expect to remain awake during your procedure, but we give you medications so that you will not feel any pain or discomfort. Most patients are able to go home the same day.
Cardiac Catheterization Procedures
- Diagnostic catheterization
- This procedure helps us diagnose heart problems. During a diagnostic procedure, we may perform a number of different tests, such as:
- Examining the structures
- Checking pressure in the heart chambers
- Measuring how well blood is flowing through them
- Coronary angioplasty
- This treatment uses a catheter with a balloon tip to push buildup of fatty substances (plaque) out of the way. After inserting the catheter into an artery and positioning it near the buildup, we expand the balloon, which pushes the plaque aside and allows blood to flow more easily through the artery.
- During an angioplasty, we may insert a tiny mesh tube (stent) to help keep the artery open. We insert the stent over the balloon catheter before the angioplasty procedure. As we inflate the balloon, the stent expands to fit the exact size of the artery. We then remove the balloon, leaving only the stent behind. Over time, tissue grows around the stent, holding it permanently in place.
- Intravascular coronary ultrasound
- This test uses a catheter with a special instrument at the tip. We examine the walls of the arteries near the heart for plaque buildup using ultrasound technology. Ultrasound is an imaging test that uses sound waves to produce images of structures inside the body.
- Fractional flow reserve measurement
- If we detect a partial blockage in an artery near your heart (coronary artery), we use fractional flow reserve measurement to determine whether you need treatment (an intervention). This procedure uses a catheter with a special sensor at the tip to measure blood pressure and blood flow in specific parts of the arteries.
Heart Surgery at St. Francis Medical Center
At St. Francis Medical Center, we deliver complete care for patients with heart disease in southeast Los Angeles County. Our treatment options include surgical procedures to fix problems and restore good blood flow. While the idea of having heart surgery can be worrisome, at St. Francis, you are in skilled, capable hands.
With our extensive expertise, we give you every chance for a good outcome so you can get back to enjoying your life. Our team includes dedicated heart surgery experts (cardiothoracic surgeons), specially trained nurses, anesthesiologists and technicians. Our heart surgery operating rooms and specialized post-surgical care help you recover as quickly as possible.
Highlights of our program include:
- We are one of only a few programs in the community using transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) to examine the heart during surgery. TEE uses a special device that we insert through the throat and esophagus to closely examine the surgical area. Using TEE helps us confirm your surgery goes precisely as planned, which can reduce the need for additional surgeries.
- Minimally Invasive Techniques
- If you are having a coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) procedure, we use minimally invasive techniques to help you avoid a second incision. CABG works by repairing a blocked artery with a healthy one from another part of the body. Using minimally invasive techniques, we carefully remove a portion of the healthy vein using the smallest necessary incision (endoscopic vein harvesting).
- Our dedicated cardiac operating rooms and specialized heart teams are available all hours of the day and night. If we detect a life-threatening heart condition, we can be ready to perform surgery as quickly as needed.
- Personalized Care
- As part of our focus on our patients, we tailor treatments to meet your unique medical needs. We encourage you to take an active role in your care. Our team takes the time to explain why you need surgery. We also give you the information and support you need to make important decisions about your treatment.
- Specialized Support to Help you Recover
- After surgery, you recover in our intensive care unit, where dedicated heart care nurses and critical care physicians deliver specialized care. These practices can help you recover faster and reduce your risk of complications. Learn more about our intensive care/critical care unit.
- Comprehensive Heart Care
- We use the least invasive treatment method possible. We will first try to treat the condition with medications or a nonsurgical procedure or less invasive procedures, like cardiac catheterization. We recommend surgery only if it is the most effective way to fix a problem. We discuss your treatment options with you so that together, we can make the best decisions for your health. Find out more about cardiac catheterization.
- Special heart tests help us ensure the accuracy of your surgery before we even start. St. Francis offers a broad range of tests, including imaging scans using all the latest technologies. We use this information to pinpoint problem areas and meticulously plan your procedure. Read more about testing and monitoring.
- Valve Repair Procedures
- To fix tight heart valves that do not open and close normally
- Procedures to Implant Special Devices
- Such as pacemakers or implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) for arrhythmias
- Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting
- (CABG), which replaces blocked arteries in the heart’s major arteries with healthy ones from other parts of the body
- Aortic Aneurysm Repair
- To strengthen blood vessels near the heart that have become weakened and are at risk for rupturing
Surgical Treatments for Heart Disease at St. Francis Medical Center
Sometimes, surgery is the best way to fix heart problems and restore blood flow to the rest of the body.
Heart surgery at St. Francis
Contact us at (310) 900-7380 to learn more about the services we offer or to make an appointment.