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Patient Care

Patient care is one of the three pillars in our mission to improve the lives of people with cardiovascular disease and prevent disease among those at risk. All of our research and training efforts are conducted with a sharp focus on maintaining quality and efficiency of patient care.

One of the premier referral centers in the country, the University of Maryland Heart Center is committed to patient safety and improved outcomes. Our physicians see patients and conduct surgical and interventional procedures on a daily basis, and several leading Heart Center physicians have been honored in Baltimore Magazine’s 2013 Top Doctors. 

At the Heart Center, patients can seek out the following cardiology services (click headings for more information):

Electrophysiology/Arrhythmia Services

This team of specialists work within the Noninvasive Imaging Department, where they treat a range of heart rhythm conditions, including:

  • Arrhythmias 
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Atrial flutter
  • Supraventricular tachycardia
  • Ventricular fibrillation
  • Ventricular tachycardia
  • Brugada syndrome  
  • Long QT syndrome 
  • Bradycardia 

Diagnostic Approaches  

Our specialists offer the latest diagnostic procedures for all cardiac arrhythmias and take care to use the most appropriate test for each patient’s condition. Your doctor may order one or more of these tests for you:

  • Electrocardiograms, including signal-averaged electrocardiography
  • Event recorder
  • Echocardiogram
  • Exercise test (stress test or treadmill test)
  • Tilt table evaluation
  • Invasive electrophysiology studies

Treatments and Procedures 

With advanced resources, including leading-edge technology and the skill and experience of our specialists, the University of Maryland Heart Center offers several options to help manage arrhythmias. Specialists at the Maryland Heart Center provide a detailed evaluation and recommend the best treatment plan for patients based on individual needs.

Available treatments include:

  • Anti-arrhythmia medications
  • Arrhythmia genetics clinic
  • Implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) and pacemaker insertion
  • Catheter ablation, including cryoablation and radiofrequency ablation
  • Cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT)
  • Electrical cardioversion
  • Complicated ablation procedures and pulmonary vein isolations

Noninvasive Imaging

At the University of Maryland Medical Center, the Noninvasive Imaging Department is divided into four subsections:

  • Echocardiography
  • CT Angiography
  • Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Nuclear Cardiology

Nuclear Cardiology, CT Angiography, and Cardiovascular MRI are collaborative endeavors with the Department of Radiology.

The past few decades have seen dramatic advances in noninvasive cardiac imaging, a set of painless, nonsurgical methods physicians use to assess cardiovascular risks, diagnose cardiovascular disease, and determine a patient’s risk of additional cardiovascular events. A wide variety of cardiovascular conditions can be evaluated with these approaches, including heart attack, coronary artery disease, and acute coronary syndromes with or without angina.

Echocardiography  

Using the power of sound waves to produce images, this painless test allows cardiologists to see if your heart is functioning normally or if it is enlarged, weakened, or has any damage, particularly to the valves.

You might need an echo test if:

  • You have a heart murmur
  • You’ve had a heart attack
  • You have unexplained chest pains
  • You have a congenital heart defect

CT Angiography  

This test combines the technology of a CT scan with that of angiography to create detailed images of the blood vessels in the body. CT angiographies may be ordered to help diagnose a narrowing or obstruction of the arteries, an aneurysm, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, or another vascular condition.

In a CT scan, x-rays and computers create images that show cross-sections, or slices, of your body. CT angiography is similar to a CT scan, but contrast dye is injected into a vein to help visualize the blood vessels and the blood flow within these vessels. CT angiography is considered to be less invasive than a traditional angiography, as the dye is injected into a vein instead of an artery.

Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)  

Cardiac MRI provides detailed pictures of your heart and blood vessels without using ionizing radiation. MRI uses radio waves, magnets, and a computer to create the pictures. Cardiac MRI creates both still and moving images of your heart and major blood vessels, allowing cardiologists to see the beating heart and to look at its structure and function. These pictures can help your doctor decide on the best treatment for your condition.

Nuclear Cardiology  

Patients are referred to the Nuclear Cardiology Team for a variety of conditions. Many patients with cardiac risk factors, such as smoking, family history of heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes, are referred to evaluate the likelihood of coronary artery disease. Some are referred to evaluate the cause of chest pain, while others may undergo stress testing as a means of assessing their risk of coronary events prior to noncardiac surgery or to determine the effectiveness of medications. Finally, nuclear imaging of the heart is also used to provide information on the strength of the heart muscle. Stress testing most commonly involves exercise on the treadmill.

Heart Failure

Heart failure is a condition that occurs when the heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the needs of the body’s other organs. The heart keeps pumping, but much less effectively than a healthy heart. Usually, the heart’s reduced capacity to pump reflects a progressive, underlying condition.

Heart failure specialists at the University of Maryland Heart Center focus on the care of patients with pulmonary heart failure, advanced heart failure, and cardiomyopathy, as well as implantation of mechanical assist devices.

Cardiothoracic Transplantation

The Cardiothoracic Transplant Program helps people with serious heart and lung conditions that cannot be treated medically or by other surgical means. These include congenital defects and those arising from medical conditions or injuries.

General Cardiology

The University of Maryland Heart Center’s general cardiology team provides a wide range of cardiovascular services, from chest pain evaluation to cardiac rehabilitation.

Center for Preventive Cardiology

The Center for Preventive Cardiology is dedicated to preventing cardiovascular events (such as a heart attack) in people who may be more likely to have one. You may be at risk if you:

  • Have high cholesterol
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have diabetes or prediabetes
  • Smoke or smoked in the past
  • Have a close relative (mother, father, or sibling) with heart disease
  • Have had a heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular event in the past

 

Vascular Medicine

The vascular medicine section evaluates and manages patients with a variety of arterial and venous diseases. The team also works in partnership with the University of Maryland Vascular Center, which conducts surgical and minimally invasive procedures to treat blockages in the arteries and veins.

Adult Congenital Heart Disease

The Congenital Heart Program is focused on improving patient quality of life and outcomes. In a multidisciplinary approach, treatments include interventional catheter based care, arrhythmia management, electrical physiology assessment and care, and imaging and genetics.

Women’s Heart Health Program

The Women’s Heart Health Program is dedicated to improving care for women with heart disease as well as raising awareness of issues that women face when receiving cardiac care. The symptoms of heart disease sometimes differ in women from those in men, so frequently both patients and their doctors do not recognize cardiovascular disease in women. The team at the Women's Heart Health Program can distinguish whether a woman’s symptoms are due to heart disease or to other issues.

Hypertension Program

High blood pressure increases the risk of both cardiovascular disease and kidney disease and can worsen the risk or progression of diabetic complications such as retinopathy (eye damage) and neuropathy (nerve damage). Large numbers of Americans have high blood pressure, including many Baltimore residents. The Hypertension Program is dedicated to the prevention and treatment of high blood pressure in all patients, but with particular emphasis on special populations such as the elderly and African Americans.

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David A. Zimrin, M.D.
Division Head, Cardiovascular Medicine