Every Heartbeat Matters


Cardiologists at Rio Grande Regional Hospital follow their hearts to treat patients with care.

Much like all of the different parts of the heart function as one, Rio Grande Regional Hospital’s many departments work together to ensure their patients’ cardiovascular health every single day. With heart disease as the leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control, the entire staff at Rio Grande Regional Hospital implements a team approach and the latest technology to recognize when a patient’s chest pain means there are heart issues present. They act decisively to image, diagnose, monitor and manage them.

The heart conducts some of the most essential functions of the human body, including circulating oxygenated blood to the rest of the organs. The fist-sized muscle includes key arteries, veins, and other structures that combine to pump life throughout the body. Immediate response to possible problems is key to successfully diagnosing and treating cardiovascular-related issues.

screen-shot-2017-01-05-at-10-22-00-am“Once you have chest pains, you must react,” said Cynthia Noche, RN, Director of the Cardiac Telemetry Department at Rio Grande Regional Hospital. “The patient should not take any risks.”

Noche, a 23-year veteran of the hospital, has led the telemetry department 13 years. The telemetry unit of the hospital has special equipment used to closely monitor patients’ changes in blood pressure and the rate and rhythm of their heart. Patients in this unit experiencing chest pains can have peace of mind as technicians specially trained to recognize abnormalities are always monitoring patients via a portable heart monitor. A patient’s heart rate can be affected by many factors, including blood sugar, medications, activity, and other influences. This is why it is crucial for both the cardiologist and nurses to ask questions about the patient’s condition and help educate them on how to monitor their own health once they’re out of the hospital and back home, by making appropriate lifestyle changes to become healthier.

The hospital often sees patients seeking help after experiencing shortness of breath with minimal physical activity, or chest pain while at rest — called angina. Other symptoms, including lightheadedness and dizziness, along with abnormal heart rates and rhythms, are indications that people should seek diagnostic tests to analyze what’s going on with their hearts. Rio Grande Regional Hospital provides all major tests and treatments as a part of its Heart and Vascular services.

Rio Grande Regional Hospital has all of the latest technologies, procedures, and devices to help its patients with their health issues. Jose Martinez, Director of the Radiology Department, states that his department is staffed with highly trained technologists who see a vast number of patients each day for various imaging services, including CAT scans, MRIs, and other tests. Rio Grande Regional Hospital also offers calcium scoring, a non-invasive CT scan of the heart. This test aids in calculating risk of developing Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) by measuring the amount of calcified plaque in the coronary arteries. “We’re offering these procedures to make it easier to answer questions about coronary heart disease,” said Martinez. “Especially when the patient is in the emergency room and we need immediate results.”

In addition, the radiology department sees children. “Sometimes the children are fearful of the equipment, but my staff and I make sure to ease their fears by explaining that the intimidating machines are just big cameras,” says Martinez. “You have to take your time with children, just like we do with adults.” He is proud of the dedicated group of employees in the radiology department, some of whom have been with the hospital for over 20 years.

screen-shot-2017-01-05-at-10-22-16-amServing the Rio Grande Valley since 1982, Rio Grande Regional Hospital offers complete cardiovascular services, from the fast treatment of events like heart attack and stroke, to treatment of underlying heart and peripheral vascular diseases. Their cardiologists, and the rest of their cardiovascular care team, are unparalleled in their use of innovative technology to prevent, diagnose and treat cardiovascular diseases in both adult and pediatric patients. The hospital’s full-range of Heart and Vascular services are available in the cardiac catheterization lab, which provides diagnostics and intervention. It is available 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. Their heart and vascular surgical options help treat a wide range of cardiovascular conditions, and their electrophysiology studies provide non-surgical diagnoses and treatments of heart-related issues.

“Problems in the arteries are primarily genetic, but risk factors such as smoking and high blood pressure affect individuals as well,” said Manny Cavazos, Director of Cardiology Services at Rio Grande Regional Hospital, including the Cardiac Cath Lab, Echo Lab, Stress Lab, and EKG Department. “The main areas of concern in the population of the Valley are diabetes and obesity. People can help manage their heart disease by exercising and monitoring their cholesterol and blood pressure.”

February is American Heart Month, which serves as an opportunity to help raise awareness of heart disease. A healthy heart is the goal, ensuring that one of the most important organs in the body is performing as efficiently as possible. Should an individual’s heart need anything from an emergency jump-start to a yearly check up, they can find help at Rio Grande Regional Hospital’s cardiology department.

Dr. Guillermo Salinas, Interventional Cardiologists and Medical Director of Cardiology Services at Rio Grande Regional Hospital for nine years, performs procedures to help clear plaque and other blockages from blood vessels to boost blood flow by performing mesh stent insertions, balloon angioplasties, or atherectomy.

“When I decided to go into cardiology, something that motivated me was the fact that we could intervene at the exact moment when somebody’s having a major heart attack and really change how they’re going to do in a matter of a few minutes,” he said. “It’s very gratifying to see how much you can impact somebody’s condition by doing these procedures.” Furthermore, he says there’s a great need for this work in the Valley. He describes himself as a “plumber” of the heart, and his colleague, Dr. Jeremy Enslein, as the heart’s electrician.

Dr. Enslein, Cardiologist and Medical Director of Cardiac Cath Lab Services at Rio Grande Regional Hospital for 11 years, is responsible for looking at electrical solutions to dealing with heart problems. This can range from a Holter monitor that keeps track of a patient’s heart rate and rhythm for one or two days for diagnostic purposes, to a pacemaker device, which is implanted in the chest to control the heart’s rhythms and can last anywhere from eight to 10 years.

“It’s an extremely rewarding profession,” Enslein said of his work. “There are times you really do make huge differences in people’s lives.”

Patients at Rio Grande Regional Hospital receive the most expert care possible, whether they are there for heart-related problems or other issues. Individuals who work at the hospital genuinely care about their patients and proudly provide you and your loved ones with healthcare you can trust.