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Straight from the Heart

Patients of HSH-affiliated cardiologists get fast stress test results with HOPD


When dealing with matters of the heart, Humble Surgical Hospital encourages early intervention for optimal cardiac health.

HSH recently established a hospital outpatient department (HOPD) that offers a wide array of services — including stress tests to monitor changes or irregularities in the heart’s electrical activity.

“We want to make sure we catch patients before they have a heart attack,” says Debbie Cormier, chief nursing / administrative officer at Humble Surgical Hospital. “We look for shortness of breath, reduced heart rate and general feelings of being unwell.”

The process is fairly straightforward. After completing a medical evaluation, the cardiologist will then perform an exercise stress test to examine vital signs including heart rate and blood pressure.

“Patients will start walking on the treadmill and we see how they handle that,” she says. “If they can’t get their heart rate up on the treadmill, the physician will do a medication test.”
Many hospitals and medical centers have opened an HOPD to improve care coordination and provide more advanced services in a convenient location. What separates HSH’s department from others is the level of expertise involved.

“Most other places use an ER doctor or primary care physician, but we do ours with a board-certified cardiologist,” she says. “Working hand in hand with Dr. Barry Willens and his practice, our cardiologist Dr. Shakeel Uddin, performs the stress tests and knows all the signs to watch for.”

HSH helps patients throughout the entire process of getting a stress test, contacting insurance companies and scheduling follow-up treatment when necessary. Cormier says the average stress test only takes about two hours — but that short amount of time can
be precious.

“If you average 10 people per day doing a stress test, you’ll only get one to two patients who need an intervention, but for those people it can be a matter of life or death,” she says.
Cormier recalls the story of a patient who recently came to the HOPD for a stress test. He left with an appointment to return the next week for a heart cath.

“It was a lot worse than we even thought at first,” she says. “This person had a 98 percent blockage all over. Had this person not come in, the ultimate outcome could have been death and just in a matter of days.”

The most important principle behind these stress tests is greater knowledge. Patients can feel more empowered when they know exactly what is happening with their heart health and how it will affect them.
“If you’re getting sluggish for no reason, you need to get into your primary care physician’s office and get checked,” she says. “You want to be as safe as possible. We need to be more proactive with our heart, just like we are with our other regular wellness checkups.”