Maxwell Prempeh MD
DURING THE MONTH OF FEBRUARY, themes of love, chocolate treats, Cupid, and Valentine’s Day fill the air. It’s the perfect time of year to think about matters of the heart, and it’s also the perfect time to celebrate heart health and shine a light on this important topic. February is National Heart Month, and the providers at Harbin Clinic want residents of Northwest Georgia to know that having a healthy vascular system is essential to their quality of life.
For the past 90 years, heart disease has been the leading cause of death in the United States. But amid the COVID-19 pandemic, there is increased concern for those who have or are at risk for cardiovascular disease.
“Serious viral infections, like the coronavirus, put extra stress on the heart,” explains Harbin Clinic Interventional Cardiologist Christopher Merritt. “With a COVID-19 diagnosis, a lot of damage is happening to the respiratory system and the heart is pumping a lot harder. We’re seeing that the road to recovery can be more difficult for those with heart failure or other serious heart conditions.”
Harbin Clinic is one of the most comprehensive medical organizations in the Southeast, and they are committed to increasing heart disease awareness, especially as it relates to COVID-19, and encouraging the adoption of important preventative steps that decrease risk factors.
In the 1980s, Harbin Clinic began to establish the region’s first comprehensive cardiovascular program. Today, these heart-focused physicians and their care teams serve patients from 13 counties throughout Northwest Georgia and Northeast Alabama. With no signs of slowing their growth, Harbin Clinic is scheduled to expand their cardiology services in Northwest Georgia this year with an office expansion at their Cartersville location and the opening of a new Heart Center in Calhoun.
What sets Harbin Clinic Cardiology apart is their true commitment to the communities they serve. And when it comes to Heart Month, they want patients, neighbors, friends, and community to know the proactive steps they can take to keep their hearts pumping strong. We spoke with Harbin Clinic cardiologists to learn what they are working towards for the communities they care for and what are the best ways to avoid and prevent complications from heart disease.
The cardiology team at Harbin Clinic Cartersville works tirelessly to provide top-notch cardiovascular care to care completely for their patients. A team of experts, Maxwell Prempeh, MD, Digant Bhatt, MD, and Rajeeve Subbiah, MD, have spent the past several years developing innovative cardiovascular programs to make care more accessible and comprehensive for Bartow County residents.
Prempeh explains that he came to Harbin Clinic with the passion to start an Interventional Cardiology program. “Establishing this type of program would mean we could perform life-changing procedures right here in Cartersville and avoid transferring patients somewhere else. At the time, Cartersville Medical Center didn’t have that capability, and I wanted to make sure heart stents and other valuable procedures were accessible to Bartow County patients. I believe that providing care close to home is essential in recovery and positive outcomes.”
Prempeh was the first Interventional Cardiologist to join the Cartersville practice. Today, the program has two additional cardiologists, and Prempeh’s goal is to continue to expand and accommodate the needs of the community. “I wanted to bring in diverse talent. Within our group of Cardiologists, there are a variety of skills and subspecialties. We can collaborate with each other, consult on our different areas of expertise, and approach our patients’ care comprehensively and holistically. Our goal is to provide a wide spectrum of treatment for our patients and keep them here in Cartersville.” Prempeh emphasizes that the team has the resources to put in heart closure devices, fix arteries outside of the heart with stents, repair arteries of the legs, and address complications of heart failure all while keeping the patient local.
Two years ago, Cartersville received their first heart failure clinic due, in large part, to the efforts of Harbin Clinic’s Cardiologists, especially Cardiologist Digant Bhatt, MD. Patients who have heart failure can now get specialized, focus specific treatment, and they can come in more regularly and conveniently to prevent readmissions. The team continues to develop new programs and focus on how to keep patients from needing hospitalization.
The list of cardiovascular services at Harbin Clinic is extensive. The Rome, Calhoun, and Cartersville practices have an impressive lineup of doctors who are diligently working to innovate the heart care programs that are available today. Cardiologist Charles Baggett, MD, FACC provides a breakdown of the comprehensive list of subspecialties, “Our goal is to provide cohesive, high-quality cardiovascular care to our patients. That includes expanding our range of services to include General Cardiology, Interventional Cardiology, the Heart Failure Clinic, Valvular Heart Disease Clinic, Pediatric Cardiology, Sports Cardiology, Electrophysiology, and most recently Cardio-Oncology and an Amyloidosis Clinic. Having these services available locally is a huge advantage to our communities.”
Baggett has taken the lead on the two newest programs. He explains, “The Cardio-Oncology and Amyloidosis Clinic are significant additions to heart health care in Northwest Georgia. In Georgia, there are only a handful of cardiologists treating TTR Amyloidosis, and now we have the type of nuclear scan required to diagnose patients who suffer from this protein abnormality disease.”
Harbin Clinic Cardio-Oncology experts work alongside medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, and other specialties to coordinate the most appropriate treatment plan that takes a patient’s heart health into account when fighting a cancer diagnosis. “It comes down to treating their cardiovascular risk factors to prevent cardiovascular disease in cancer patients. Through collaboration with oncologists, we develop treatment options comprehensively, and it has been a real benefit for everyone involved,” says Baggett.
Harbin Clinic Cardiology’s multidisciplinary approach to medicine is paramount. Prempeh explains, “At Harbin Clinic, we have multiple offices that treat very different and specific heart conditions, but we have all of a patient’s medical history in one record. We communicate with each other, share our data, and develop a unique and individualized treatment plan for those in our care. It’s incredibly efficient and easy for the patient.”
It’s clear that if you have a heart complication, Harbin Clinic Cardiology has you covered. Yet, the goal is to prevent heart complications before they arise. While some individuals are predisposed to heart disease genetically, there are proactive steps that minimize risks of cardiovascular disease. Subbiah states that “Heart disease is still the number one killer in the US. Approximately one in four Americans will lose in the battle against this largely preventable disease.” To improve cardiovascular health, Harbin Clinic Cardiology physicians encourage these lifestyle choices.
• Stop smoking.
• Control your risk factors, including blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and cholesterol.
• Exercise 15-30 minutes a day for 5-7 days a week.
• Get a pulse on important health metrics like cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
• Take the medications that your doctor prescribes. Some issues can’t be resolved by simply eating healthy and exercising.
• Schedule regular screenings and meet with your Primary Care or Cardiology physician about additional preventative measures.
To learn more about Harbin Clinic’s cardiovascular services or to schedule an appointment, visit harbinclinic.com.