One of the Nation's Top Cardiovascular Programs

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Each year more than one million people lose their lives from some form of heart disease, some of which may be genetic, and some are the result of lifestyle choices.

UnityPoint Health Cedar Rapids is a leader in heart care. People choose us when they want the best possible heart care team helping them prevent, manage — and overcome — heart or vascular disease.

The  UnityPoint Health - Cedar Rapids Heart & Vascular Institute encompasses the heart care specialists and services of St. Luke's Hospital, St. Luke's Cardiology and the cardiovascular surgeons from Physicians' Clinic of Iowa. This collaborative relationship puts all heart care services under a single organization with physician and administrative leadership.

This cardiovascular expertise provides individuals with access to heart care experts with advanced training and a wide range of specialties that focus on the following areas:

UnityPoint Health Heart and Vascular Institute Hits its Stride

Since its formation two years ago, physicians with UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids Heart and Vascular Institute (HVI) are offering six new heart procedures, recruiting specialized and highly sought after physicians and have created centers of excellence by organizing doctors in their subspecialties. 

“Our Heart and Vascular Institute offers many of the programs and procedures large academic medical centers offer and we can deliver similar or better outcomes all while keeping patients close to home,” said Todd Langager, MD, UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids Heart and Vascular Institute medical director. “We have developed an organizational structure, which allows our cardiologists to sub-specialize. This new structure is benefiting patients. It’s also making recruitment of new doctors easier because doctors are pleased to join an organization where they know they can practice their subspecialty.”

“Heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death,” said Richard Kettelkamp, DO, UnityPoint Health – Cardiology Clinic. “There is a lot of new research that goes into caring for the cardiac patient. Our new HVI structure allows us to specialize in areas of cardiology, which allows us to be on the forefront of knowing about and offering the newest procedures, technology and research as it happens and in some cases being involved in the research.”

One area where HVI is leading the way is with new procedures like transcatheter aortic valve replacement also known as TAVR. It’s a minimally invasive, catheter-based procedure to replace the aortic valve in patients with severe aortic stenosis that are high risk or too sick for open-heart surgery. Left untreated, aortic valve stenosis can lead to more serious heart problems.

“We started our TAVR program about a year ago and have done a fair number of cases,” said Dr. Kettelkamp. “Our outcomes are better than the national average. Only about eight percent of our patients need a pacemaker after TAVR. Nationally that number is about 12 to 15 percent. We have excellent cardiothoracic surgeons we work with at Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa, top notch surgical and support staff – all of these things speak to the success of our program.”
Valve disease is slowly progressive and tends to impact a more elderly population.

“Maybe last year you were able to rake the yard but this year you had to stop two or three times,” said Dr. Kettelkamp. “Some people chalk it up to aging when in fact it’s the valve. Fixing the valve will literally give back years to your life. After the procedure I will often hear from patients, ‘I didn’t realize how bad I felt.’”


Other areas in development at HVI are a mitral valve program and further advancement of the ventricular tachycardia ablation and atrial fibrillation ablation programs.

“By allowing doctors to focus on their area of expertise we will continue to see improved quality, better outcomes and great depth from the Heart and Vascular Institute. It’s gratifying and exciting to see the program hit its stride. We are really pleased to offer these advancements in our community.”