February is American Heart Month, a designation it was given in 1964 in an effort to tackle heart disease across the country. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, deaths from heart disease are declining, but unfortunately, the country faces a steady death rate from heart attack and stroke. This month, take note of the steps you can take to reduce your risks for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. Some steps include eating a heart-healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and quitting smoking. Talk with your primary care physician about your cholesterol and blood pressure and what tests, screenings, or medications may benefit you as you seek to lower your risks. When a heart specialist is needed, New Orleans is fortunate to have a number of accomplished cardiologists, vascular surgeons, and other specialized professionals who can help. Learn more about the area’s many options for improving heart health from the following healthcare providers and insurers. 

Heart Centers

Cardiovascular Institute of the South

Cardiovascular Institute of the South (CIS) is a world-leader in the diagnosis and treatment of all forms of heart and vascular disease, including peripheral vascular disease and venous disease in the legs, valvular disease and heart arrhythmias. With 20 clinic locations and more than 65 providers, CIS’s services include pre-operative clearance, Coumadin management, stress lab, echocardiograms, cardiac rhythm monitoring, and vascular labs. In addition, CIS has an advanced structural heart program, comprehensive tobacco cessation program, and virtual care center designed to assist patients 24/7.

CIS is proud to announce the opening of the Ambulatory Surgery Center (ASC) in Gray, Louisiana. This outpatient facility offers patients advanced, innovative procedures and the latest technology at a lower cost. The CIS ASC provides high-quality care in a convenient and safe environment.

For a list of clinic locations near you or to schedule an appointment with a CIS provider, visit cardio.com.

Children’s Hospital New Orleans

The Heart Center at Children’s Hospital provides comprehensive evaluation and treatment of patients with congenital cardiovascular disorders from before they are born through childhood and into their adult years. Children’s team of accomplished and dedicated specialists includes physicians, surgeons, nurses and support staff who are trained to care for the unique needs of children with heart disease as well as their families. 

The goal of the Heart Center is to enhance the quality of life for every child under its care. Complex pediatric heart conditions often require care tied to other existing medical conditions. The Heart Center offers the benefits of a full-service pediatric hospital dedicated only to the care of kids and is proud to be the only facility in the state of Louisiana that offers a full array of pediatric specialists and sub-specialists to care for the whole child, from heart to toe.

Learn more at chnola.org/heartcenter.

Thibodaux Regional

Thibodaux Regional’s Heart & Vascular Center located in Lafourche Parish, provides comprehensive cardiovascular care, including education, prevention and screening programs, a state-of-the-art cardiac catheterization lab, heart and vascular surgery, cardiac rehabilitation, home health, and WellFit Cardiovascular Care. Combining expertise and the best cardiovascular imaging equipment in the region, the heart team at Thibodaux Regional provides the best possible care in the fight against heart disease and other cardiovascular ailments. 

For the second year in a row, Thibodaux Regional is the only hospital in Louisiana to be named one of the nation’s 50 Top Cardiovascular Hospitals by IBM Watson Health for high performance in delivering the best quality and most efficient, cost effective heart and vascular care. Call 985-493-4326 for more information, or visit thibodaux.com.

Wellness Visits

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana 

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is devoted to its mission to improve the health and lives of Louisianians. Now more than ever, it’s important to stay on top of your healthcare, especially if you’re over 60 or have a long-term condition like diabetes, heart disease or high blood pressure.

Plan your annual wellness visit for the New Year now. This checkup is a great opportunity to talk to your primary care provider about any health concerns you have, including any questions you have about the COVID-19 vaccine. Call your primary care provider today to make an appointment for your 2021 annual wellness visit. 

For more on keeping up with care, visit bcbsla.com/keepupwithcare or call 1-800-495-2523. Offices are located at 5525 Reitz Avenue in Baton Rouge.

Blood Donation & COVID-19 Antibody Screening

The Blood Center

For a limited time, The Blood Center is screening all blood donations for COVID-19 antibodies. This free service informs the donor if they carry the COVID-19 antibody, which has been used via plasma transfusions to help critically ill patients battling the coronavirus.

Scheduled donations are required to practice social distancing and insure a safe, stable blood supply. Results post three to five days after a completed blood donation. Following donation, donors need to visit TheBloodCenter.org and log into My Account for their results. Donors testing positive for COVID-19 antibodies may be eligible to donate COVID Convalescent Plasma (CCP). 

“We’ve seen promising results from patients who’ve received CCP, but there’s only a few recovered patients eligible to give at this time,” says Dr. Tim Peterson, Medical Director for The Blood Center. “The scarcity of donors with the COVID antibody make this test extremely beneficial to patient care.”

Testing also provides statistics to the Louisiana Department of Health about what percentage of the population was exposed to COVID-19. To schedule your blood donation and help save lives, visit TheBloodCenter.org or call 1-800-86-BLOOD. •