Cardiologists with the nationally ranked Duke Heart Center are leaders in the diagnosis and treatment of heart attack. Our high volume program ensures you receive prompt, effective treatment the minute you enter our hospitals. Our ongoing research impacts heart attack prevention and heart attack treatment decisions across the country. Our first goal is to identify your risk for heart attack and do everything we can to prevent it. When heart attack strikes, we use the most advanced techniques to open blocked arteries, restore blood flow, minimize damage to your heart muscle, and increase your chances for survival. If you have heart disease, we help you maintain a heart healthy lifestyle. We want you to improve your heart health and return you to your normal activities as soon as possible.
National leaders in heart attack care
Doctors call it myocardial infarction or MI. You know it as heart attack. When mild to severe symptoms like chest pain, or angina, occur, it signals that blood flow to your heart is blocked. To minimize damage to your heart muscle, and possibly save your life, you need fast treatment to open the blocked or clogged artery.
Our cardiologists are nationally recognized for diagnosing and treating heart attack. We use the latest diagnostic, medical, interventional and surgical advances, including heart bypass surgery, to open blocked arteries and restore blood flow. Our efforts have improved survival rates following heart attack in North Carolina, and are replicated across the country. Our ongoing research and clinical studies continue to improve heart attack prevention, diagnosis and treatment nationwide. Nobody wants to have a heart attack. We help you prevent it and use the most effective treatment to stop its damage when it occurs.
Choose Duke Heart Center for your heart attack care because we offer:
- Top ranked program. U.S. News and World Report ranked Duke’s heart center 5th in the nation, based on our patients’ survival rates, the number of procedures we perform and the quality of our support services.
- Leaders in prompt heart attack treatment. We developed a statewide program to ensure patients having a heart attack are evaluated quickly and treated promptly to minimize the damage done to their heart muscle. Our RACE program decreased the number of deaths due to heart attack by 20 percent, and is now being implemented at test sites across the country.
- Nationally recognized for heart attack care. The American Heart Association awarded Duke University Hospital gold achievement status for its role in improving and coordinating the quality of care for people who experience life-threatening heart attacks.
- Faster treatment. Nearly all our heart attack patients undergo percutaneous coronary intervention (also known as angioplasty) -- a minimally invasive procedure that opens blocked arteries and minimizes heart damage -- within 90 minutes or less after arriving at our hospital. This exceeds both state and national averages.
- High volume cardiac catheterization center. Our interventional cardiologists perform more than 3,000 interventional cardiac catheterizations each year, including angioplasty -- the most effective treatment for heart attack -- and the placement of stents to open blocked arteries. We constantly evaluate the best times to perform percutaneous coronary intervention (angioplasty) so we can accurately identify the best candidates for the procedure, especially in non-emergency settings.
- Better heart bypass surgery outcomes. Our cardiac surgeons have performed more than 20,000 heart bypass surgeries to date, and achieve survival rates that are consistently higher than the national average. We perform heart bypass surgery, also known as coronary artery bypass grafting, on high risk patients, as well as patients with complex conditions involving multiple blockages or blockages in difficult-to-reach locations.
- More surgical options. Our surgeons perform routine and complex surgeries, using minimally invasive techniques when possible, to re-route blood flow and clear blocked arteries. During coronary artery bypass, we use small incisions to acquire the veins needed, resulting in less scarring and faster recovery.
- Access to novel therapies. Our ongoing participation in clinical trials gives you access to new heart attack treatments and surgical techniques before they are available elsewhere, including one current clinical trial that evaluates the use of stem cells to reproduce heart tissue damaged by a heart attack.
- Support for your recovery. Our cardiac prevention and rehabilitation program gives you the resources you need -- nutrition counseling, exercise instruction, stress management, smoking cessation programs, and more -- to overcome the impact of a heart attack, establish lifestyle changes, and maintain your heart health.
Statins, antihypertensives, aspirin and nitroglycerin may be recommended to help you lower your blood pressure, prevent blood clotting, and improve blood flow to reduce chest pain.
Re-establishes blood flow to the heart more quickly than surgery, which is critical to preserve heart muscle. During this procedure, also known as percutaneous coronary intervention, a balloon-tipped catheter is inserted through small incisions and threaded through the body to reach the blocked coronary artery. The balloon is inflated to open the artery, and a metal mesh stent is placed inside to keep the artery from narrowing. The minimally invasive procedure results in less pain, scarring and blood loss, and faster recovery when compared to surgery.
Implants veins taken from elsewhere in the body to re-route blood flow around a blocked artery. Depending on your condition, heart bypass surgery -- also known as coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) -- is performed through a large chest incision or through smaller incisions through which robotic tools may be used to enhance surgeons’ visualization and ability to access the heart. The minimally invasive methods often result in less scarring, less blood loss and a faster recovery. In both open heart surgery and minimally invasive methods, a heart-lung bypass machine, or pump, may be used to still the heart while maintaining blood flow through the body. Your surgeon will choose the procedure that is most appropriate for you.
When appropriate, interventional cardiologists and surgeons work together in our hybrid operating room to perform multiple procedures when needed. This shortens the procedure time, and helps you recover faster.
Measures the presence of proteins and enzymes released into the bloodstream when heart muscle cells are damaged during a heart attack.
Records the heart’s electrical impulses to determine if the muscle has been damaged or if it is getting enough oxygen. Because of Duke’s RACE program, this test is now performed by EMS prior to arrival at the hospital, when possible, to speed access to life-saving treatment.
Sound waves create images showing the shape, texture and movement of the heart valves and chambers to indicate how they are working and the extent of any damage.