Your Heart Questions Answered

We asked MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute Cardiologist Athanasios Thomaides, MD, FACC, to give us answers to the following common health questions he most often deals with as a cardiac electrophysiologist.

What is Tachycardia and how is it treated?

Tachycardia is a heart rhythm disorder characterized by the heart beating faster than normal, which is caused by rapid electrical signals in the heart. Because the heart muscle is beating so quickly, it can weaken the heart.

Typically, tachycardia is treated by catheter ablation, a newer process with a 70 to 80 percent success rate that replaces the use of drugs, which were less effective at a 30 to 40 percent rate of success. Ablation destroys the tissue that is causing abnormal electrical signals in the heart, stopping the arrhythmia.

Like with other heart conditions, people with tachycardia should limit their alcohol and caffeine intake, maintain a healthy weight, control their blood pressure, and treat complicating conditions, such as sleep apnea, asthma or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

What is Atrial Fibrillation?

This and atrial flutter are the most common types of arrhythmia (abnormal heartbeat). It can be described as a quivering of the heart and indicates an electrical problem. Atrial Flutter means around 300 beats per minute, and Atrial Fibrillation could cause heartbeats of 500 to 600 in the upper chambers, which puts the heart into a kind of electrical chaos.

Symptoms include sudden fatigue, palpitations or feeling as if your heart is racing, shortness of breath and diminished energy. People most at risk are the elderly, those with hypertension, sleep apnea, and diabetes, as well as those who smoke or consume too much alcohol and caffeine.

Sometimes, a person with atrial fibrillation does not appear to have symptoms, but the young may be at risk for passing out and older people are at risk for having a stroke.

How is Atrial Fibrillation Treated?

Treatments can range from something simple like reducing caffeine and alcohol consumption or prescribing blood thinning medication, to a more complex solution, including the installation of a pacemaker or implantable cardioverter defibrillator, to a more invasive solution, including a cardiac ablation or surgery.

What is a WATCHMAN device?

A WATCHMAN is a device that is implanted in the heart during a catheter-based procedure. This new technology does not allow clots to form, thereby reducing the risk of stroke. It is a great alternative to taking blood-thinning drugs, eliminating the food and drink restrictions of these drugs, as well as the possibility of bleeding problems from these medications.


To better understand common terms used by medical professionals who treat veins and arteries, this guide should help. It is important to know these terms and work with your primary care physician to prevent these conditions, when possible.

  • Arrhythmia: Arrhythmia means an abnormal heartbeat.
  • Atrium: The upper two chambers of the heart. The top right pumps blood to the lower chamber and the top left atrium pumps oxygenated blood out into the body.
  • Blood Flow: Deoxygenated blood travels from all parts of the body through your veins, back to your heart, to be pumped into the lungs to receive oxygen. Once the blood is oxygenated, it is pumped back through and out of the heart into the body through your arteries.
  • Cardiologist: A cardiologist is a physician who is specialized in the heart.
  • Electrophysiology: This is the study of the electrical activity of your heart, which is used to find where an arrhythmia (abnormal heartbeat) is coming from.
  • Pulmonary: Simply, this refers to the lungs.
  • Stroke: Cardiologists who are electrophysiologists deal with blood clots that can form in the heart and travel to the brain, reducing or completely blocking blood flow that can cause a stroke, resulting in temporary or permanent damage.
  • Ventricles: The lower two chambers of the heart. The right ventricle takes blood pumped in from the upper chamber and pumps it into the lungs and the left ventricle pumps oxygenated blood into the left atrium to travel throughout the body.

Athanasios Thomaides, MD, FACC

For more information on this and other heart-related issues, visit MedStarSouthernMaryland.org/Heart or call 301-877-4367. 

If you do not have a physician, visit MedStarSouthernMaryland.org/FindADoc.

Please call 301-877-5677 if you would like to make an appointment with Dr. Thomaides.

MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center
7503 Surratts Road
Clinton, Maryland 20735
[Get Directions]
Phone: 301-877-4367

MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute
MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center partners with MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute, a national leader in research, diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease.

How Does Obesity Impact the Heart?

According to Interventional Cardiologist Mun K. Hong, MD, FACC, obesity has multiple harmful effects on the heart, including the heart muscle, the blood vessels, and heart rhythm. Having the extra weight is similar to carrying half of that weight in each hand every second of the day.

For example, if someone is 50 pounds overweight, he/she is carrying 25-pound weight in each hand every second of the day. As you can imagine, this extra weight would cause stress on the heart to result in the heart muscle being thickened, the heart blood vessels developing blockages, and the heart rhythm to be disturbed. In addition, obesity contributes to the development or worsening of high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol.

On the other hand, weight loss can result in the reversal of these harmful effects. There was a recent study, where obese patients with irregular heart rhythm called atrial fibrillation were divided into two groups, with one group not helped to lose weight and the second group coached and supported to lose weight. The group that lost weight also had resolution of their irregular heart rhythm.    

It is not easy to lose weight, especially if one has been overweight for a long time. However, it is important to change lifestyles, including adding more physical activities, reducing calorie consumption, especially from animal fats, and maintaining a regular sleep pattern. It is thus especially important to help young children and teenagers to adopt a healthy lifestyle to avoid becoming obese.

There is some controversy regarding the use of weight loss prescription medications. It is essential to have close follow-up with physicians. It is not a good idea to use over-the-counter weight loss “medications,” as their safety is not guaranteed.

Q & A with Cardiologist Sung W. Lee, MD

How does being overweight or obese affect your heart?  How does a healthy heart function when compared to the heart of a patient who is overweight?

  • Almost all cardiovascular diseases increase in frequency in the setting of obesity, including hypertension, coronary heart disease (CHD), heart failure (HF), and atrial fibrillation (AF).
  • Excessive body fat increases blood volume which eventually leads to abnormal enlargement and thickening of the heart.  This can lead to heart failure.
  • Overweight patients also tend to develop sleep apnea which causes inadequate breathing and raise blood pressure in the lung. 
  • Body fat also increases inflammation and releases hormones that can cause scars in the heart.   

Is there a link between obesity and atrial fibrillation (the most common heart rhythm problem)?

  • Around 40 percent of the US population is obese, based on body mass index, and almost 10% are severely obese.  The estimated prevalence in the United States is approximately 5.2 million and is expected to increase to 12.1 million by the year 2030.  The obesity epidemic is partly responsible for a marked increase the prevalence of atrial fibrillation.

How have you seen these problems manifest themselves in your patients?

  • Patients with atrial fibrillation most often feel heart beating fast and “flip-flopping."  They feel short of breath and tired.  However, symptoms can be often subtle. 

If you are overweight and begin to diet and exercise, can this help reverse the damage to your heart?

  • Lifestyle modifications, including weight loss, have a favorable impact on atrial fibrillation, by lowering the incidence and frequency of atrial fibrillation. 
  • Physical activity and cardio-respiratory fitness seem to have a positive impact on atrial fibrillation.

Atrial fibrillation

MedStar Southern Maryland Joins MHVI & Cleveland Clinic Alliance

"MedStar Southern Maryland has evolved to become the ‘go-to’ cardiac and vascular center for the Southern Maryland peninsula."

Clinton, Md., Nov. 27, 2017 - MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center (MSMHC) is proud to announce that it has joined the MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute-Cleveland Clinic Heart & Vascular Institute Alliance. Since 2013, Cleveland Clinic’s Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute and MedStar Heart &Vascular Institute (MHVI) have shared best practices related to patient care, outcomes measurement, quality reporting and clinical research. Physician teams from both organizations work together to accelerate improvements in heart care, research and to support even better patient outcomes. MedStar Southern Maryland now joins this collaborative exchange among leading heart care providers. Patients in southern Maryland will benefit from an exceptional and unmatched level of heart and vascular care. 

“Cleveland Clinic’s Heart & Vascular Institute, voted the best cardiovascular program in the country and arguably, one of the best programs in the world, has acknowledged the improvements in quality of cardiology care at MedStar Southern Maryland since MedStar Health took over the hospital, by allowing us to join this alliance,” said Mun K. Hong, MD, chairman of cardiology. “Physicians and the southern Maryland community can have confidence in our quality and can trust us with their cardiac care.”

“MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute-Cleveland Clinic Heart & Vascular Alliance brought together outstanding regional and national heart programs to further strengthen each organization,” said Christine R. Wray, MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center President. “We are very pleased to join this team and are proud of the innovative program we have developed here, which includes two full-time cardiac interventionalists, an on-site vascular surgeon, vascular access surgeon, two electrophysiologists, and a fully staffed cardiac catheterization laboratory. This process has been years in the making and we are very proud to have accomplished this goal.”

To become associated with Cleveland Clinic’s Heart & Vascular Institute, a hospital must meet numerous national benchmarks and quality standards in cardiology, such as mortality and the median door-to-balloon time (the time between a heart attack patient’s hospital arrival to treatment with angioplasty to open a clogged artery). Members must commit to maintaining these standards, and Cleveland Clinic’s Heart & Vascular Institute, in turn, is committed to sharing its experience and expertise to further improve the quality of care and patient safety at these hospitals.

“This accomplishment is the result of a deliberate and focused journey by the MedStar Southern Maryland team working with MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute and Cleveland Clinic’s Heart & Vascular Institute leadership to bring the portfolio of their cardiovascular services to the highest levels of quality and service. MedStar Southern Maryland has evolved to become the ‘go-to’ cardiac and vascular center for the Southern Maryland peninsula,” said Stuart F. Seides, MD, MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute’s physician executive director.  

“Cardiovascular care is constantly advancing, and it’s important to be able to deliver these innovations to patients,” said Jeffrey Rich, MD, chairman of operations and strategy for Cleveland Clinic’s Heart & Vascular Institute. “Adding MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center to this alliance will strengthen cardiovascular care in this region and provide patients with high-quality care.”


About MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute:

MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute is a national leader in the research, diagnosis, and treatment of cardiovascular disease, and has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report and The Society of Thoracic Surgeons as one of the top cardiovascular programs in the nation. A network of 10 hospitals and 150 cardiovascular physicians throughout Maryland, Northern Virginia and the Greater Washington, D.C., region, MedStar Heart also offers a clinical and research alliance with Cleveland Clinic Heart & Vascular Institute, the nation’s #1 heart program. Together, they have forged a relationship of shared expertise to enhance quality, improve safety and increase access to advanced services. MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute was founded at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, home to the Nancy and Harold Zirkin Heart & Vascular Hospital. Opened in July 2016, the hospital ushered in a new era of coordinated, centralized specialty care for patients with even the most complex heart and vascular diagnoses.

About MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center:

MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center, located in Clinton, Maryland, is a 182-bed acute care hospital serving the Washington, D.C., metro and Southern Maryland area. The hospital is focused on caring for patients and their loved ones utilizing advanced technology under the guidance of expert clinicians. Quality, Safety, Wellness, and Patient Satisfaction are achieved through a spirit of patient-centered services that connect us to the community we serve.

MedStar Southern Maryland Welcomes Cardiologist, Malik Al-Omari, MD

MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center and MedStar Heart and Vascular Institute are pleased to announce that interventional cardiologist Dr. Malik Al-Omari will be joining doctors Hong, Thomaides and Lee. 

The role of an interventional cardiologist is to intervene with heart complications to perform procedures such as angioplasties to open up arteries or veins, or to install stents, which are mesh wire tubes that keep blood vessels open. Without such intervention, artery blockages limit blood supply, which weakens heart muscles.

As an Interventional Cardiologist, Dr. Malik Al-Omari will treat patients preventatively with procedures such as angioplasties and stent installations and will treat patients who have suffered heart attacks. Dr. Al-Omari will perform angioplasties, cardiac catheterization diagnostic procedures, stenting and Transesophageal Echocardiography (TEE) Tests.  He offers care and treatment for angina, aortic stenosis, atrial fibrillation, cardiopulmonary disease, coronary artery disease, heart attack, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and mitral valve stenosis.

Dr. Al-Omari earned his medical degree at Jordan University of Science and Technology in his home country of Jordan and completed an internship at Princess Basma Teaching Hospital in Irbid, Jordan. He completed a Residency in Internal Medicine at Seton Hall University in New Jersey and a Residency in Nuclear Medicine at the University of Connecticut Health Center. He also completed a Fellowship in Heart Failure and Transplantation at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, a Fellowship in Cardiology at a Mayo Clinic Program in Florida and a Fellowship in Interventional Cardiology at the University of Tennessee Health Center.

Prior to joining MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center, Dr. Al-Omari worked as an interventional cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota and the Mayo Clinic Health System in La Crosse, Wisconsin. He also served as an assistant professor of medicine at the Mayo College of Medicine and is the author of numerous peer reviewed articles. Dr. Al-Omari speaks Arabic and medical Spanish. 

To make an appointment with Dr. Al-Omari or any member of the MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center and MedStar Heart and Vascular Institute’s cardiologist group, please call 301-877-5677.


About MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center:

MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center, a 182-bed full-service hospital serving the Washington, D.C., metro and Southern Maryland areas, was founded in 1977 and joined MedStar Health in December 2012.  Throughout the hospital’s history, it has remained a community leader, a strong supporter of health care education and a dedicated advocate for quality health care services.

About MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute:

MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute is a national leader in the research, diagnosis, and treatment of cardiovascular disease. A network of 10 hospitals and 150 cardiovascular physicians throughout Maryland, Northern Virginia and the Greater Washington, D.C., region, MedStar Heart also offers a clinical and research alliance with Cleveland Clinic Heart & Vascular Institute, the nation’s #1 heart program. Together, they have forged a relationship of shared expertise to enhance quality, improve safety and increase access to advanced services. MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute was founded at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, home to the Nancy and Harold Zirkin Heart & Vascular Hospital. Opened in July 2016, the hospital ushered in a new era of coordinated, centralized specialty care for patients with even the most complex heart and vascular diagnoses. 

 

Contact:

Cheryl Richardson
Marketing & Community Relations
(301) 877-5556
[email protected]

What is Congestive Heart Failure and How Can It Be Treated?

The words congestive heart failure may sound scary, but with expert care and treatment, patients can either make lifestyle changes, begin medication regimens, or undergo procedures that can address the symptoms of congestive heart failure, and go on to live healthier lives.

Congestive heart failure results from the heart muscle not performing normally. With congestive heart failure, the heart fails to pump efficiently and causes shortness of breath and swelling. In addition, because the heart is overworking to compensate, its walls may become thick and stiff as a result. This is the leading cause of hospitalization for people over the age of 65. 

There are two types of congestive heart failure. The first is systolic heart failure, meaning weak heart muscle. It can be caused by a previous heart attack or viral infection. It can be treated by developing a plan with a cardiologist that addresses lifestyle changes and medications to improve the heart’s performance.

The second is diastolic heart failure, meaning the heart muscle is strong, but stiff. It may be caused by longstanding high blood pressure or valve problems. Like systolic heart failure, it can be treated through lifestyle changes and medication.

To make an appointment with Dr. Thomaides, Dr. Lee or Dr. Hong, ask your primary care doctor for a referral, or call their office at 301-877-5677.

Advanced Heart Failure Symptoms

Advanced heart failure symptoms are similar to those experienced by patients with less serious disease. The difference is that symptoms can be felt with minimal exertion or even at rest.  The severity of symptoms can still vary from day-to-day, or even within the same day.

These include:

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling of the legs and feet
  • Swelling of the abdomen
  • Irregular heartbeat (cardiac arrhythmia)
  • Weight loss
  • Chest pain

Advanced Heart Failure Treatment

Our doctors usually treat less-severe heart failure with lifestyle changes and more common medications. But more advanced heart failure often requires a deeper approach. Possible options include:

  • Inotropes: Medications that increase your heart’s squeezing capacity (only select centers like ours can send patients home on these powerful medications)
  • Cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) device: Ensures the right and left side of your heart contract at the same time (learn more about pacemakers)
  • Percutaneous valves: Repair or replacement of heart valves with a minimally invasive approach that avoids open-heart surgery
  • Left ventricular assist devices (LVAD): Devices that help the heart, either as permanent treatment or as a temporary measure before transplant
  • Heart transplant: Replacement of the heart with a donor organ 

Heart Failure VS Heart Attack – Do You Know the Difference?

Cardiology Terms to Know

By: Athanasios Thomaides, MD, FACC

Heart attack: The medical term for a heart attack is myocardial infarction (MI).  MIs are caused by blocked arteries supplying the muscle of the heart (myocardium).  The blockages are caused by plaque formation and plaque rupture secondary to high cholesterol and hypertension.  Symptoms of a heart attack include chest pain (which may be felt in the shoulder, arm, jaw, or upper back), difficulty breathing, sweating, and nausea.

A heart attack is an emergency. If you, or someone around you, develop these signs, call 911 immediately.

Sudden cardiac death (SCD) is the result of heart rhythm disturbance.  The electrical system of the heart suddenly stops working, causing the heart to quiver and not be able to pump blood throughout the body. Examples of SCD include ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation.  These often lethal arrhythmias cause the sufferer to suddenly collapse and lose consciousness. 

If you experience a sudden loss of consciousness (fainting), you should come to the hospital for evaluation. Although fainting is harmless in many cases, we should make sure that it’s not a sign of a heart rhythm problem.

If you see someone collapse, and they are not breathing, call 911 and look to see if an automated external defibrillator (AED) is available nearby.  If not, start CPR immediately and continue until the ambulance arrives.

Congestive heart failure (CHF), or simply heart failure, is a term used to describe hearts when they no longer function/pump effectively.  This syndrome is frequently caused by weakening of the muscle of the heart, a condition known as cardiomyopathy.  Symptoms of congestive heart failure include difficulty breathing, fatigue, and swelling.  Heart failure is a chronic condition that can often be managed with medication.

THOMAIDES athanasios 1
To schedule a consultation with Dr. Thomaides, call (301) 877-5677.

Feeling Woozy? Fainting Spells Can Often Signal Underlying Heart Disease

Alex Ryzhikov, MD, FACC, Cardiovascular Disease and Internal Medicine
Alex Ryzhikov, MD, FACC, Cardiovascular Disease and Internal Medicine

 

By: Alex Ryzhikov, MD, FACC, Cardiovascular Disease and Internal Medicine

Fainting is a brief loss of consciousness due to a temporary inadequate blood supply to the brain. Fainting spells, known as “syncope,” are extremely common. In fact, approximately one-third of us will experience a fainting spell at some point in our life. A person who faints will typically regain consciousness quickly and without assistance. Such fainting spells occur often in younger people and are typically benign. In older patients, however, fainting spells can often signal underlying heart disease. 

Causes of Fainting

Fainting has several causes, including “vasovagal syncope,” which refers to a sudden drop in blood pressure and heart rate that can occur when an individual is laughing, coughing, using the bathroom, exposed to warm or hot temperatures, suddenly frightened or experiences sudden pain. Dehydration, caffeine use and alcohol use can lead to such fainting spells, which are often preceded by nausea, a feeling of doom and “tunnel vision,” clamminess and profuse sweating. After regaining consciousness, the person often feels extremely tired. Other causes of fainting include blood pressure drops caused by a change in position (such as standing up); this occurs more commonly in people with low blood pressure or those take diuretic medications for blood pressure or water retention.

More worrisome causes of fainting spells are problems with the electricity of the heart, in which the heartbeat becomes unusually slow, momentarily stops or accelerates rapidly. An overly muscular heart or a problem with one of the heart valves can lead to a fainting spell without any warning signs. Fainting that occurs without warning, often called a “drop attack,” or fainting that occurs with exertion, is likely due to a problem with the heart and should be evaluated by a primary care doctor and possibly a cardiologist as soon as possible.

Diagnosis

To check for a heart problem, the doctor will likely start with an electrocardiogram (EKG). Patients are often asked to wear a 24-hour heart monitor to look for electrical problems with the heart. Sometimes a two- to four-week event monitor is used. In addition, the doctor may order an echocardiogram and a stress test to check for any problems with the blood flow in the heart. Implantable recorders under the skin, tilt-table testing and occasionally electrophysiology studies are sometimes necessary to precisely determine the cause of fainting spells. These tests are performed by a cardiologist.

Treatment

Treatment of fainting spells focuses on the underlying cause, which varies from one person to the next. If you experience a fainting spell, please seek medical attention. The cardiologists at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center are experts at diagnosing and treating syncope. Simple lifestyle changes can often prevent future fainting spells: minimizing caffeine and alcohol, increasing the amount of water you drink, changing your medications and wearing compression stockings. In other cases, your cardiologist may recommend a pacemaker or defibrillator to treat an underlying heart condition.

Learn more about Heart Care at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center.

Get the Facts on Heart Attacks

Doctor using stethoscope on senior patient 

In honor of National Heart Month, Dr. Mun K. Hong, FAACC, Chairman, Department of Cardiology at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center, took the time to answer some frequently asked questions about heart attacks. Stay informed about the risk factors and common symptoms individuals may face every day by reading below! Learn more about heart care

 Q. What is a heart attack?

 A. A heart attack is an emergency in which the heart is suddenly deprived of blood, usually due to a blood clot in an artery or by plaque or fat build-up in the wall of the artery. A heart attack requires immediate medical care.

 Q.What are the symptoms?

 A. Symptoms can include chest tightness, heaviness, or pressure, as well as pain. The discomfort can get worse even when you are resting and may radiate to the left arm, neck, or back. It may feel like indigestion, with belching giving temporary relief. Patients with diabetes may experience severe shortness of breath rather than chest pain. If these symptoms persist or get worse over the next 20 minutes or so, call 9-1-1 and describe your symptoms – never drive yourself to the emergency room.

 Q. What causes a heart attack?

 A. Heart attacks are caused by many risk factors, including a family history of heart attacks and heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, cigarette smoking, lack of exercise, obesity and emotional stress. Drugs such as cocaine can also cause a heart attack.

 Q. What are the treatment options?

  A. The best treatment is to restore blood flow with an angioplasty or a stent procedure. During an angioplasty, the cardiologist uses a tiny balloon to widen an artery that is too narrow. Sometimes the cardiologist will insert a mesh tube called a “stent” to help keep the artery open. These surgical procedures can be done only in hospitals with specialized facilities, like MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center.

 Q. What can you do to reduce the chance of a heart attack?

  A.  People who have risk factors should take the prescribed medications to treat them and should make lifestyle changes like exercising more. It is also important to see a cardiologist and family doctor regularly.

MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center Earns Awards from American Heart Association

Clinton, MD — For the second year in a row, MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center has been awarded the American Heart Association’s Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award and Target: Stroke Honor Roll for the Get With The Guidelines®-Stroke program. These national recognitions, the latest in a string of awards for the Stroke Center, signify that the hospital has consistently delivered quality stroke care in accordance with evidence-based core medical standards and quality measures. These core standards are designed to minimize damage to the brain and optimize the chance of a robust recovery from stroke, the fourth leading cause of long-term disability in the United States.

“Our experienced Stroke Center team works every day to ensure that we are always ready to provide quick and comprehensive care for stroke patients using best practices and nationally-accepted standards,” says Christine Wray, President, MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center & MedStar St. Mary's Hospital, & Senior Vice President, MedStar Health “We plan to continue the commitment to excellent care that led us to this accomplishment.”

The Get With The Guidelines goal is to promote consistent adherence to nationally-accepted guidelines for stroke treatment among hospitals. The program’s achievement awards bring national recognition to hospitals, such as MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center, that care for stroke patients using the most up-to-date, research-based guidelines to speed recovery and reduce death and disability for stroke patients. The hospital’s Gold Plus award indicates that the Stroke Center has met specific quality achievement measures for the diagnosis and treatment of stroke patients at a set level for two consecutive 12-month periods.  These measures include aggressive use of medications and risk-reduction therapies aimed at reducing death and disability and improving the lives of stroke patients.

The hospital also earned a spot on the American Heart Association’s Target: Stroke Honor Roll by implementing stroke quality measures that reduce the time between hospital arrival and treatment with the clot-busting medication tPA. If tPA is administered within three hours of the onset of stroke symptoms, patients have a better chance of recovery and are less likely to suffer severe disability.

Ranked among the top stroke programs in Maryland, MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital’s Stroke Center has a long history of award-winning performance in stroke care. It was the first in Southern Maryland to be certified as a Primary Stroke Center by the state of Maryland, and it remains the only certified Primary Stroke Center in Prince George’s County. Last year, the Stroke Center earned the Get With the Guidelines—Stroke Gold Plus Achievement Award and Target: Stroke Honor Roll, one of only four hospitals in Maryland to earn this distinction.

About MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center

MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center, a 262-bed full service hospital serving the Washington, D.C., metro and Southern Maryland areas, was founded in 1977 and joined MedStar Health in December, 2012. In addition to its inpatient facility, the hospital operates a state-of-the-art twenty-four bed subacute unit. Throughout the hospital’s history, it has remained a community leader, a strong supporter of health care education, and a dedicated advocate for quality health care services. Learn more.

About MedStar Health

MedStar Health is a not-for-profit health system dedicated to caring for people in Maryland and the Washington, D.C., region, while advancing the practice of medicine through education, innovation and research. MedStar’s 30,000 associates, 6,000 affiliated physicians, 10 hospitals, ambulatory care and urgent care centers, and the MedStar Health Research Institute are recognized regionally and nationally for excellence in medical care. As the medical education and clinical partner of Georgetown University, MedStar trains more than 1,100 medical residents annually. MedStar Health’s patient-first philosophy combines care, compassion and clinical excellence with an emphasis on customer service. For more information, visit MedStarHealth.org.

Media Contact:

Kelanda Dickerson
Marketing & Public Relations Assistant
(301) 877-5700