Coffs Cardiology welcomes new patients

Visiting Coffs Cardiology for the first time you may wonder about what’s involved. For your convenience, we have provided some information regarding commonly asked questions.

Please contact us for further queries.

For all tests and appointments at Coffs Cardiology we ask that patients bring:

  • Current medications
  • Medicare card
  • Health insurance details
  • A current referral letter.

View our range of services for more information about your test.

Following testing at Coffs Cardiology, and in consultation with your Cardiologist, you may be referred on for a cardiac procedure that involves hospitalisation and/or surgery.

Coronary Angiography

This test is performed to detect the presence of coronary artery disease and is performed when your Cardiologist feels there may be significant narrowing within your coronary arteries that needs to be treated. This procedure is also usually performed prior to any cardiac surgery.

Coronary angiography is sometimes called cardiac catheterisation and is performed in the Angiography Unit at the Coffs Harbour Health Campus under local anaesthetic as a day procedure.

A coronary angiogram is a dye test where tubes (catheters) are fed through the vascular system usually from the groin. A liquid contrast (x-ray dye) is then injected through the catheters into the heart arteries and x-ray video pictures are taken. These images show if any of the coronary arteries are narrowed or blocked by plaque (fatty) deposits. At the same time, the pumping chamber and valves on the left side of the heart are examined for any abnormalities.

The procedure usually takes 30 minutes, but sometimes may take longer. You will be unable to drive for 24 hours so you will need to arrange transport to and from the hospital. You should attend all recommended follow up appointments with your GP and Cardiologist.

The Angiography Unit at the Coffs Harbour Health Campus can be contacted on 02 66565400.

Coronary stents

A stent is a small, tube-shaped piece of mesh, that is capable of holding an artery open.

The procedure to put a stent in place is similar to that for coronary angiography and is performed in the Angiography Unit at the Coffs Harbour Health Campus under local anaesthetic as a day procedure.

After the blockage in the artery has been opened with a balloon, a second balloon and a small crimped stent is positioned at the location of the blockage and then the stent is released. Upon release the stent expands and stays in the artery. The healing that occurs in the first four to six months will cover the stent, which then has become part of the artery wall.

Other surgical interventions

Your particular heart condition may require a different form of intervention not currently offered by Coffs Cardiology. Your cardiologist will discuss this with you and refer you on to the appropriate specialist.

We have a close association with cardiothoracic surgeons from Prince of Wales Hospital and St Vincent’s Hospital as well as Paediatric Cardiologist from Prince of Wales Hospital and Electrophysiologists from John Hunter Hospital and St Vincent’s Hospital.

Some of the procedures you may be referred on for include electrophysiology study (EPS), valve replacement, coronary artery bypass grafting or implantation of a permanent pacemaker or implantable cardio-defibrillator.

ACE inhibitors

The ACE stands for Angiotensin Converting Enzyme. By inhibiting this enzyme, blood vessels dilate, and this effect is used to treat hypertension.

Angiotension receptor blockers

These are related to the ACE inhibitors, acting on blood vessels in a slightly different way to reduce pressure and resistance. They are generally used when ACE inhibitors are not tolerated. As with ACE inhibitors, they’re used in hypertension and heart failure.

Antiarrhythmic drugs

These include beta blockers and calcium antagonists. The most commonly used antiarrhythmics include: Digoxin, Flecainide, Propafenone, Sotolol, and Amiodarone.

These drugs are used to treat atrial and ventricular arrhythmia.

Beta blockers

This group of drugs acts primarily to reduce the heart rate and the strength of heart contraction. Drugs such as atenolol, metoprolol, nebivolol, carvedilol and bisoprolol are all beta blockers. The major use of these drugs is treating angina but sometimes they are used to treat arrhythmias and to treat heart failure.

Blood thinning/anticoagulation

  • Aspirin reduces the stickiness of platelets in the blood to prevent clots building up within arteries. Treatment is usually lifelong after a heart attack or stent.
  • Clopidogrel is another type of platelet drug that reduces clot build up. In patients with heart attacks, clopidogrel provides additional protection when added to aspirin.
  • Warfarin works by acting on the coagulation profile rather than platelets, and is used to treat larger clots.

Calcium antagonists

Includes drugs such as amlodipine, nifedipine, felodipine, lercandipine, diltiazem and verapamil. These drugs act to dilate blood vessels, and have applications in treating angina and hypertension.

Diuretics

These drugs assist in removing extra fluid from the circulation. So, in heart failure where excess fluid accumulates in the legs and the lungs (causing breathlessness), diuretics will offload the excess.

Nitrates

Includes drugs such as GTN spray and isosorbide mononitrate. This class of drugs dilates blood vessels directly and can be used to treat angina by dilating coronary arteries.

What you eat and drink influences four of the major risk factors for coronary heart disease: high total blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and being overweight.

Saturated and trans fats contribute to the plaque that builds up on the insides of your artery walls and cause coronary heart disease. You can help to lower your total cholesterol level and limit further artery clogging by reducing the amount of saturated and trans fats that you eat.

Enjoy healthy eating with a reduced saturated and trans fat intake. Choose healthier fats and oils, or none.

Enjoy a variety of foods. Include vegetables, wholegrains, fruit, nuts and seeds every day.

Limit sugary, fatty and salty take-away meals and snacks.

Drink mainly water.

For help and healthy recipes see the Heart Foundation’s Healthy Eating page.

The Heart Foundation recommends that you do at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical active on most, if not all, days of the week. You can do this in smaller bouts, such as three 10-minute walks a day if it is easier.

For people who have experienced heart problems, such as a heart attack or surgery, it is recommended that regular moderate intensity physical activity be a vital part of your return to everyday life. From the beginning, increase your activity very gradually. Talk to your doctor or cardiac rehabilitation health professional about when you can start being physically active again and how to build up your physical activity programme.

Slow down or stop if you feel short of breath, get irregular heart beats or chest pain.

If you have been prescribed angina medicine, carry it with you when you are being physically active and follow your doctor’s advice for its use.

For more useful advice visit the Heart Foundation’s Active Living page.

 

What risk factors for heart disease can you change?

1. Quit smoking. Many people who die from smoking, die from heart and blood vessel disease and stroke. Avoid second hand smoke and enjoy a smoke-free lifestyle.
2. Manage your weight. Carrying too much body fat can increase your risk of coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.
3. Lower your alcohol intake. Excessive drinking increases your risk of high blood pressure, coronary heart disease and stroke. Drink no more than two standard alcoholic drinks per day.

Remember, that like any lifestyle change the best results are achieved with small steady steps. Work on one or two risk factors at a time.

You can improve your heart health by making the right lifestyle choices, taking prescribed medication and keeping your medical appointments.

Australian Heart Foundation
http://www.heartfoundation.org.au

Quitline website for smokers and ex-smokers.
http://www.quitnow.gov.au

Life Be In It.
http://www.lifebeinit.org

Swap it, don’t stop it – on line 12-week planner
http://swapit.gov.au

Coffs Harbour Base Hospital – NSW Health website
http://www.ncahs.nsw.gov.au

American College of Cardiology
http://cardiosmart.org

Beyond Blue
http://www.beyondblue.org.au

Lifeline
http://www.lifeline.org.au