How health care advances have improved cardiac care

Daniel Bethencourt, M.D., cardiovascular surgeon, Orange Coast Memorial, Long Beach Memorial

Sinjin Lee, M.D., cardiologist, Saddleback Memorial Medical Center


There is great hope for those with coronary heart disease. Two-thirds of adults now survive the disease, which is 27 percent higher than a decade ago, and impressive new technologies and techniques show promise

Smart Business spoke with prominent Saddleback Memorial Medical Center cardiologist Sinjin Lee, M.D.; as well as Daniel Bethencourt, M.D., a renowned cardiovascular surgeon and national leader in robotic surgery at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center and Long Beach Memorial to learn more.

What are the risk factors for heart disease and how can they be lowered?

Smoking, obesity, sedentary lifestyles, and consuming saturated and trans fats are prevalent among many Americans. These will negatively impact cholesterol counts as well as blood pressure levels and can cause dangerous plaque build-up in coronary arteries. Further, one in three California children are overweight, increasing their heart disease risks as adults, making family fitness essential.

For women, the symptoms can be subtle and include nausea; uncomfortable pressure; dizziness; tightness or heaviness in the chest; difficulty breathing; pounding heart; cold sweats; and shooting pain in the shoulders, neck, arms or back.

Lowering cholesterol and treating high blood pressure can reduce risks of dying of heart disease or needing heart surgery or angioplasty. Prevention includes maintaining an appropriate weight, eating foods low in cholesterol and fat, reducing stress, exercising regularly, regular check-ups, screenings and following your doctor’s advice.

What advances are available locally?

At the MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute, advanced diagnostic heart disease technologies and treatments are standard. These include open heart surgery, angioplasty, medical device implantation, stenting, catheter ablation and rehabilitation and cardiac centers for women. Emergency treatment times at our cardiac paramedic receiving centers beat the national average, as do our hospitals’ cardiac outcomes.

MemorialCare hospitals are ranked among the highest in terms of the number of robotic heart surgeries performed nationally. These procedures enable surgeons to operate with precision through tiny incisions with less trauma to the body, faster recoveries, and minimal pain and scarring.

Orange Coast Memorial is one of the region’s first hospitals that has a hybrid interventional operating room with both a cardiac surgical suite and cardiovascular catheterization laboratory combined. This revolutionary suite is designed for open heart surgeries as well as minimally invasive cardiovascular procedures. It also allows cardiac surgeons to perform diagnostic testing during and after surgery.

Saddleback Memorial’s new advanced biplane system allows physicians to perform high-level interventional cardiac and neurological imaging and treatment procedures. Dual X-ray sources and imaging cameras move through and around the intricate human circulatory system, offering three-dimensional views of the anatomy during minimally invasive cardiac and neurologic procedures.

How can we create a healthier workplace?

The workplace can help everyone achieve better health by ensuring the availability of fruits, vegetables and nutritious foods.

MemorialCare offers heart health worksite prevention programs and screenings to employers. Also, offers tools to help evaluate medical risks. Health guides outline heart attack symptoms, heart-healthy eating and women’s wellness.

MemorialCare Health System, a not-for profit, integrated delivery system, includes six top hospitals — Long Beach Memorial, Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach, Community Hospital Long Beach, Orange Coast Memorial, and Saddleback Memorial in Laguna Hills and San Clemente; medical groups — MemorialCare Medical Group and Memorial Prompt Care and the Independent Practice Association (IPA) Greater Newport Physicians; MemorialCare HealthExpress retail clinics; and numerous outpatient health centers throughout the Southland.

Daniel Bethencourt, M.D. is a cardiovascular surgeon at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center and Long Beach Memorial. Sinjin Lee, M.D. is a cardiologist at Saddleback Memorial Medical Center.

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