The leading cause of death in the U.S. is heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And Northwest Indiana, in particular, has some of the highest rates of heart disease in the state, according to the Indiana Department of Health.
Improving those rates was the goal of Community Healthcare System’s recent Heart & Vascular Symposium at the Center for Performing and Visual Arts in Munster.
In addition to offering several health screenings, the free event highlighted six presentations by Community Healthcare cardiologists, who aimed to saves lives through education and prevention.
Topics focused on the risks of heart disease and what attendees can do to protect themselves. Presentations and speakers included:
- “Peripheral Vascular Disease” by David Stewart, MD, interventional cardiology
- "Stroke Prevention in Atrial Fibrillation” by Pratik Patel, MD, cardiology/electrophysiology
- “New Therapies in Hyperlipidemia” by Omar Husseini, MD, cardiology
- “Venous Disease: New Treatment & Technology” by Anas Safadi, MD, interventional cardiology
- “Women & Heart Disease” by Navdeep Bhatti, MD, cardiology
- “TAVR: Minimally Invasive Valve Replacement” by Samer Abbas, MD, interventional cardiology
“Coronary artery disease is the most common disease in Northwest Indiana,” said Abbas, both director of Cardiology and Cardiovascular Services at Community Hospital and director of Community Healthcare System’s Structural Heart & Valve Center. “We bring our board-certified interventionalists and our peripheral valve physicians to the symposium to speak about cardiac disease, coronary disease and peripheral disease.”
Bhatti spoke on the risks and signs of heart disease in women, a topic that has been historically under-researched, she said.
“Heart disease, unfortunately, is treated less aggressively with surgery and interventional procedures in women compared to men. Women are less often referred to cardiac rehab,” Bhatti said. “The common risk that we see in TV shows or that we read about are not always how women present. Actually, most often it's not. In women, you could have pain or pressure in the lower chest, back pain, nausea, vomiting, fainting. Indigestion is really a common symptom that I've seen in a lot of women who are presenting with heart attacks.”
Bhatti also stressed that women are less likely to seek treatment immediately when they begin having symptoms of heart disease because they rationalize the symptoms as being a more minor issue.
“That can be really dangerous because you may be ignoring symptoms of cardiovascular disease,” Bhatti said. “I really don't want women to ignore symptoms. It is really important for women to be advocates for their own cardiovascular health.”
Participant Kathleen Skurauskis attended this year’s symposium to learn from her cardiologist, David Stewart, MD, who opened the event with a presentation on peripheral vascular disease.
“It's just a wonderful event put on by Community Healthcare System. That's my hospital, and I like to support my community,” said Skurauskis, who also attended a previous symposium. “It's an opportunity to get (screenings). It's an opportunity to hear some wonderful speakers. I came with my group of friends, and it's a good learning experience.”
Hosting the symposium is one of the many events and outreach efforts Community Healthcare System offers the growing communities in Northwest Indiana.
“I’m proud to say Community Healthcare System has performed more than 700 transcatheter aortic valve replacements,” Abbas said. “We are also the only percutaneous mitral valve repair program in Lake County.”
Abbas wants Northwest Indiana residents to know excellent healthcare is available right at home.
“We want to show the public that you don't need to go anywhere else,” he said. “Your heart can be treated here successfully. We have the experts; we have the technology.”
To learn more about cardiovascular services at Community Healthcare System, visit COMHS.org/heart.