Cardiovascular disease remains the number one killer in America. Like any complicated mechanical device, the heart is prone to all kinds of malfunctions and a mind-boggling array of ways to repair them. An outstanding heart center can handle emergencies like the one that rushed former president Bill Clinton to the O.R., as well as routine care for chronic problems like congestive heart failure. It will have assembled an experienced team of great cardiologists and surgeons, interventional specialists who open arteries by threading tiny wires into them, and electrophysiologists who correct heartbeat irregularities, and will have on hand catheter labs, cardiac imaging equipment that can reveal why the heart’s off-kilter, heart failure services, and research and transplant programs.
When you consider the truly amazing things done at Penn Cardiac Care, it’s no surprise it placed 19th in the nation on the U.S. News & World Report list for heart care. In the past three years, Penn doctors have performed more heart transplants and more heart surgery than any other hospital in the region. Penn’s center specializes in complex cases that other doctors refuse and has been chosen to test a minimal-incision procedure to replace heart valves without opening the chest. The Lipid Disorders Program is a beacon for the management of high cholesterol, a key risk factor in heart disease (3400 Spruce Street and 51 North 39th Street, 800-789-PENN, pennhealth.com/cardiac).
The celebrity most recently rushed to Heart Care at Hahnemann University Hospital was State Senator Vince Fumo. There are 150 cardiac-care beds at U.S. News & World Report’s 49th-ranked heart hospital, where the world’s first mitral valve repair was done 50 years ago; the excellence in diagnosis, care and life-saving, complex surgery, from robotic-assisted bypasses to transplants, has continued undiminished (230 North Broad Street, 215-762-7000, hahnemannhospital.com).
The Jefferson Heart Institute was one of the first heart centers in the nation to implant stents to open blocked arteries, and is designated by Blue Cross a Blue Center for cardiac care. It has participated in numerous landmark clinical trials and conducts basic science research whose findings have included identification of certain cancer drugs that cause heart toxicity and of novel pathways that regulate the pumping function of the heart. The Advanced Heart Failure and Transplant Center creates aggressive, tailored regimens for people awaiting donor hearts. (925 Chestnut Street, mezzanine; entrance at 10th and Ludlow streets; 800-JEFF-NOW, jeffersonhospital.org/heart).
A pioneer in heart transplants, Temple Heart Center performed the first one in the region and has done 900 since. It was among the first centers to use ventricular assist devices to keep alive patients awaiting transplants. The 22 full-time cardiologists and four surgeons, a training program with 14 fellows, a research arm and a complete array of invasive and non-invasive diagnostic technologies are among the reasons this was chosen a Blue Distinction Center for cardiac care (3401 North Broad Street, 800-TEMPLE-MED, templehealth.org).
Deborah Heart and Lung Center holds the topmost three-star designation given by the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, earned by only 12 percent of heart centers nationwide. As its name implies, Deborah treat solely heart and lung problems, and patients travel here from all over the region. No transplant program (200 Trenton Road, Brown Mills, 609-893-6611, Deborah.org).
Recipient of Health Grades awards for both cardiac care and cardiac surgery excellence, and a Blue Distinction Center for Cardiac Care, the Heart Center at Lankenau Hospital was cited for “lower than expected” death rates for bypass surgery by the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council. Great strength in surgery and interventional procedures (100 East Lancaster Avenue, Wynnewood, 866-CALL-MLH, mainlinehealth.org).
Though opened just eight years ago, the Heart Institute of Doylestown Hospital’s a breadth of services and state-of-the-art technology that have earned it recognition as a Blue Distinction Center for Cardiac Care and a Health Grades ranking as one of the top 10 for heart care in Pennsylvania (595 West State Street, Doylestown, 215-345-2200, dh.org).
Research shows that centers performing the most cardiac surgery tend to have the best results. The New Jersey Heart Institute at Lourdes is the largest provider of cardiac services in the Delaware Valley, with a total of 2,700 open-heart procedures and angioplasties, individual five-star ratings in coronary bypass, heart valves, heart failure and coronary interventions from Health Grades, a staff of nearly 100 cardiologists, surgeons, electrophysiologists and anesthesiologists, and participation in clinical trials. No transplant program (1600 Haddon Avenue, Camden, 856-365-4072, lourdesnet.org).
A Blue Distinction Center for Cardiac Care, Pilla Heart Center at Abington Memorial Hospital has everything available at a university hospital except transplants, including robotic-assisted bypass, 24-hour angioplasty for emergency blockages, the Porter Institute for Valvular Disease (which has done 1,500 valve surgeries under the skilled direction of Paul Addonizio), and an exemplary community education and outreach program (1200 Old York Road, Abington, 215-481-2420, amh.org/pilla).