St. Luke's Heart & Vascular Care
St. Luke’s is home to the nationally recognized Nassif Heart & Vascular Center, the largest and most comprehensive cardiovascular center in the area. We offer a full range of heart and vascular services, including preventive treatment, diagnostics, open heart surgery and the most advanced heart procedures available.
Our commitment to cutting-edge treatment, along with the growing number of patients seeking heart care and needing St. Luke's unique expertise is why we are investing $25 million to expand our heart and vascular services.
St. Luke’s specially trained structural and interventional cardiologists treat patients suffering from blocked arteries, valve diseases and structural abnormalities of the heart, all without the need for open-heart surgery. That means patients recover faster and can stay close to home for nearly all of their heart-related issues.
Our team of advanced heart experts encompasses the specialists and services of St. Luke's Hospital, cardiologists at St. Luke's Heart Care Clinic, cardiothoracic surgeons at St. Luke's Heart & Lung Surgery, vascular surgeons from Physicians' Clinic of Iowa; as well as interventional radiologists from Radiology Consultants of Iowa. This network allows us to provide the highest quality of care and the best possible patient experience right here in the Cedar Rapids area – no need to travel.
St. Luke's is Cedar Rapids' Heart Hospital
Experience matters. St. Luke's treats more heart patients and performs more advanced heart procedures than any other hospital in Cedar Rapids.
Know the facts when it comes to your heart care – more people choose St. Luke's because of our long legacy as Cedar Rapids' Heart Hospital. Here’s why two out of three patients in the area choose St. Luke’s:
Longer-Tenured Heart Care Program
St. Luke's: 44 years, Since June 1977
Mercy: 4 years, Started November 2017
Dedicated, Comprehensive Heart & Vascular Center
St. Luke's: Yes, Since 2000 (97,126 sq. ft. and growing!)
More Heart Care Experts
Number of cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons, ARNPs and PAs.
St. Luke's: 30 (16 cardiologists)
Mercy: 25 (11 cardiologists)
More Outreach Clinics
Providing care close to home.
St. Luke's: 5 locations
(Anamosa, Independence, Manchester, Marengo, Vinton)
Mercy: 2 locations (Vinton, Manchester)
Treats the Most Heart Patients in Cedar Rapids*
St. Luke's: Treats 2 out of 3 patients seeking heart care in Cedar Rapids
Mercy: Treats 1 out of 3 patients
*Source: Iowa Hospital Association
Top 50 Heart Hospital in America
Ranked by Truven Health Analytics/IBM Watson Health Company
St. Luke's: 6 times
Mercy: 3 times
ER Chest Pain Center Accreditation
From the American College of Cardiology, based on rigorous on-site evaluation of the staff's ability to evaluate, diagnose and treat patients who may be experiencing a heart attack.
St. Luke's: Yes
Platinum Performance Achievement Award for Heart Attack Treatment
St. Luke's is one of only 240 hospitals in the country to receive the highest-level rating for quality and performance in treating heart attack patients as outlined by the American College of Cardiology's National Cardiovascular Data Registry (NCDR) for Chest Pain - Myocardial Infarction (heart attack).
St. Luke's: Yes
Fastest-ever-recorded time from ER arrival to opening of blocked arteries
St. Luke's: 13 minutes (St. Luke's average is 59 minutes)
Mercy: 26 minutes
More Advanced Procedures
- First Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)
Minimally invasive, catheter-based aortic valve replacement procedure that doesn't require open-heart surgery.
St. Luke's: 2016
- Transcatheter Valve Certification
From the American College of Cardiology, for demonstrated expertise and commitment in treating patients receiving transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) and repair procedures.
St. Luke's: Yes (Only hospital in Iowa)
- WATCHMAN for Afib
Device that acts as a barrier when inserted (via catheter) into the part of the heart where clots are most likely to form; alternative to open-heart surgery.
St. Luke's: Yes
- MitraClip for Mitral Valve Repair
Catheter-inserted device used to correct mitral regurgitation (a leaking mitral valve); no open-heart surgery required.
St. Luke's: Yes
- Shockwave Procedure to Open Blocked Arteries
State-of-the-art catheter procedure that uses sonic pressure waves to fracture calcified plaque and reopen blocked arteries.
St. Luke's: Yes
1960s - 1990s
- 1966 - Cardiac Care Unit opened
- 1978 - First and only Cedar Rapids hospital to offer open-heart surgery
- 1983 - First Cedar Rapids Cardiac Rehabilitation program established
- 1995 - First Cedar Rapids hospital to offer cardiac stents
- 2000 - Nassif Heart Center opened
- 2002 - First Iowa hospital to introduce the hypothermia protocol for cardiac arrest patients
- 2004 - Named a Top 100 Cardiovascular Hospital for the first time
- 2006 - Transition to Home program for heart failure patients began
- 2007 - First Cedar Rapids hospital to perform patent foramen ovale (PFO)/atrial septal defect (ASD) closure
- 2009 - Cardiologists, L.C. joins St. Luke's Hospital
- 2010 - Received full accreditation as a Chest Pain Center with percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) from the Society of Chest Pain Centers
- 2013 - One of three hospitals in the world using a high-resolution electrophysiology (EP) catheter
- 2013 - Cardiologists, L.C. changes its name to UnityPoint Clinic Cardiology and opens in the Physicians' Clinic of Iowa Medical Pavilion
- 2013 - St. Luke's receives full accreditation from the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care
- 2014 - First in Cedar Rapids to use the Artic Front Advance Cardiac Cryoballoon System
- 2014 - St. Luke's develops a program for treating chronic coronary disease; chronic total occlusions (CTO)
- 2015 - Heart & Vascular Institute established
- 2016 - First in Iowa to use the VenaSeal™ closure system, a minimally invasive treatment option for varicose veins
- 2016 - First in Cedar Rapids to offer Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), a minimally invasive procedure that's an alternative to open-heart surgery, offers hope for heart patients with inoperable aortic stenosis
- 2017 - A new procedure called the Watchman is performed for the first time in Cedar Rapids, at St. Luke's. Watchman helps AFib patients reduce the risk of stroke-inducing blood clots and eliminates the need for blood-thinning medications
- 2018 - St. Luke's performs first mitral valve commissurotomy, a surgery that improves blood flow through the valve
- 2018 - First successful implantation of the VITARIA® System in a patient enrolled in the Autonomic Regulation Therapy to Enhance Myocardial Function and Reduce Progression of Heart Failure with Reduced Ejection Fraction (ANTHEM-HFrEF) Pivotal Study
- 2021 - MitraClip, a minimally invasive procedure used for mitral valve repair, is first offered in Cedar Rapids by St. Luke's Heart Care team
- 2021 - First Shockwave procedure, a treatment for advanced heart disease which delivers sonic pressure waves to fracture the buildup of calcified plaque and reopen blocked arteries, is performed in Cedar Rapids by St. Luke's
- 2022 - The hospital embarks on a $25 million expansion of St. Luke's Heart and Vascular Center
Using the most sophisticated tools and advanced procedures available, doctors can quickly and accurately diagnose and treat your heart condition in St. Luke's chest-pain-accredited Heart and Vascular Center.
- On average, heart attack patients are treated 22 minutes faster at St. Luke's than most hospitals across the nation.
- We developed a process to quickly move heart attack patients from the Emergency Department (ED) to our Catheterization Lab (Cath Lab). As a result, we remove the blockage in your artery sooner, which lessens tissue damage and offers you a better outcome.
Doctors diagnose and evaluate circulatory problems such as life-threatening blockages and narrowing of arteries, through sophisticated, noninvasive screening methods in the Vascular and Interventional Radiology lab. The most common conditions diagnosed include:
- Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) – blood flow to the extremities is restricted
- Occlusive disease – a complete block of blood flow through a vessel
- Vasospastic disorders – blood vessel spasms; results in decreased vessel opening
- Aneurysm – weakening of the inner wall of a blood vessel; leads to vessel ballooning out of shape
- Malformed blood vessels
- Fistula – abnormal connection between two vessels
- Small vascular tumor
St. Luke's Heart Check is a series of five tests to assess your heart, vascular and stroke health.
- $195: Heart Check tests, plus a consultation with a St. Luke's heart care expert
- $40: Comprehensive blood test (optional)
2023 Heart Check Dates: There are currently no Heart Check dates scheduled. Please check back for openings.
How to schedule: When dates are available, please call (319) 369-8129 to schedule your appointment.
What does the testing include?
- Electrocardiogram (EKG): Sometimes also abbreviated as an ECG, this test measures the electrical activity of the heartbeat. By measuring time intervals, testing can determine if electrical activity is normal, fast, slow or irregular. Results can also show if parts of the heart are enlarged or overworked.
- Echocardiogram (ECHO): By using a handheld device placed on the chest, ultrasound waves produce pictures showing the size of the heart, its motion and structure. Testing assesses the overall function of the heart muscle and heart valves and can provide valuable information about the presence of many types of heart disease.
- Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Test: An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) occurs when the wall of the aorta (which is a large blood vessel that extends into the abdomen) becomes weakened, balloons out and can rupture. The condition generally does not have any symptoms but can be detected with an ultrasound screening.
- Carotid Artery Ultrasound: Carotid arteries are large arteries on each side of the neck that supply the brain with oxygen-rich blood. Ultrasound image testing can show whether plaque has narrowed one or both of the arteries, reducing blood flow to the brain and increasing the risk of a stroke.
- Ankle-Brachial Index test for Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD): PAD is a circulatory condition in which blood flow to the arms and legs is reduced due to narrowing of the arteries. A common symptom of PAD is leg pain when walking. Testing involves measuring the blood pressure in the ankle and comparing it to the blood pressure reading taken at the arm.
What does the optional blood test include?
- Lipid Panel to determine total cholesterol, calculated LDL ("bad" cholesterol), HDL ("good" cholesterol) and Triglycerides, another form of fat in the blood. This group of tests can determine risk of coronary heart disease.
- Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP) provides important information about the current status of the kidneys, liver, and electrolyte and acid/base balance as well as your blood sugar and blood proteins. This panel includes testing Albumin, ALT, AST, Bilirubin, Carbon Dioxide, Calcium, Chloride, Creatinine, Glucose, Alkaline Phosphatase, Potassium, Total Protein, Sodium and Blood Urea Nitrogen.
- Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) test screens for and helps diagnose thyroid disorders.
Frequently Asked Questions:
I've seen these types of screenings offered by companies I've never heard of. Why is this any different?
While you've probably seen advertisements for traveling companies that offer screenings on a mobile unit, the St. Luke's Heart Check gives you the peace of mind that comes from knowing the tests are performed and checked by St. Luke's doctors, nurses and technicians. This testing also includes a consultation with a St. Luke's Heart Care expert to discuss your results and advise follow-up care.
Who should be tested?
The Heart Check program is open to anyone concerned about their cardiac health. Those with a past history of heart disease or stroke- either personally or in their family- are especially encouraged to participate.
Where are the tests performed and how long will it take?
All tests are performed at St. Luke's during one appointment. Plan on the appointment lasting one-and-a-half to two hours. Results are available the same day, so your consultation with a heart care expert to discuss your results will take place before you leave.
Your heart disease can go undetected for years. St. Luke's developed Heart Scan to speed up the process of finding heart disease. We use this screening to identify plaque in your coronary arteries and assess your heart's health. There are no injections, treadmills or pre-test fasting.
Call today to learn more or schedule your Heart Scan: (319) 369-8909 (a doctor's referral is required)
How does a Heart Scan work?
A computed tomography (CT) machine takes X-ray pictures of your heart and detects plaque in the arteries, creating a number called a calcium score. This number determines your heart disease risk. The results help your doctor assess your risk of heart disease and which steps you can take to avoid serious heart complications.
Who can get a Heart Scan?
The Heart Scan is for men and women between the ages of 40 and 70. All that's needed is a doctor's referral.
Key Heart Screening Tests
It's important to talk to your provider about these key heart screening tests to be sure you are doing everything you can for a healthy heart ...
Blood Pressure: High blood pressure greatly increases the risk for heart disease or stroke. This is one of the most important screenings because symptoms of high blood pressure are difficult to detect. If your blood pressure is greater than 120/80 mm Hg, have it checked regularly. High blood pressure can be controlled through lifestyle changes and/or medication.
Cholesterol: Also known as Fasting Lipoprotein Profile, this blood test measures LDL (bad) cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol and total cholesterol. This too can be monitored through lifestyle changes and/or medication.
Body Weight: Your Body Mass Index (BMI) measurements tell if you are at a healthy body weight and composition. Obesity puts you at a greater risk for heart disease, stroke, atrial fibrillation (irregular heart beat), congestive heart failure, diabetes and more.
Blood Glucose: High blood glucose levels put you at risk for insulin resistance, prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. If left untreated, diabetes can lead to health issues such as heart disease or stroke. If you are overweight and have at least one additional cardiovascular risk factor, your doctor may recommend a blood glucose test.
Smoking, Physical Activity and Diet: If you are a smoker, talk to your provider about ways to quit. Also discuss your physical activity and eating habits. Ask about ways to improve your lifestyle and get your heart health back on track!
Why is Screening Important
The key to lowering your risk of developing cardiovascular disease, also called coronary artery disease (CAD), is to manage health behaviors and risk factors. These include diet, physical activity, smoking, body weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose and more. To know which risk factors you may have, your doctor may conduct or request screening tests.
Everyone has different levels of risk. If your test results are not ideal, it doesn't mean you will develop cardiovascular disease. Instead, it means you can start a journey to a healthier lifestyle and change your health for the better!
Some tests, such as body weight and blood pressure, are taken during routine appointments, and some cardiovascular screenings start as early as age 20. Follow up exams depend on your level of risk.
If you have been previously diagnosed with a cardiovascular condition such as heart failure or atrial fibrillation or have a history of heart attack or stroke you may require additional and more frequent screenings. Even if you have not been diagnosed you may require frequent testing if you have risk factors or a family history of cardiovascular disease.
Open Heart Surgery, Heart & Vascular Treatments
Open heart surgery is the traditional way St. Luke's Heart Care surgeons repair various heart problems, such as:
- Abnormal areas or holes in the heart
- Arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats)
- Coronary artery disease (buildup of hardened calcium, or plaque, that narrows or blocks arteries and reduces blood flow to the heart)
- Heart defects present from birth (congenital heart defects)
- Heart failure
- Valvular diseases or damage (leaky or non-functioning heart valves)
Diagnoses for these conditions are made by a general cardiologist, who then refers patients to a cardiothoracic surgeon for open-heart surgery or to a structural or interventional cardiologist for a catheter-based procedure.
One of the four major heart valves, the mitral valve connects the left upper chamber of the heart to the left lower chamber. It has two leaflets, and over time, the valve can become diseased and leak (regurgitate). This can cause fatigue and shortness of breath.
A St. Luke’s structural cardiologist attaches the MitraClip to the mitral valve to decrease the gap between the two leaflets. As a result, the valve is able to close more completely. MitraClip is an alternative to open heart surgery. The procedure is performed under general anesthesia and involves making an incision in the groin and using a catheter through a vein to deploy the device. Patients typically stay one night in the hospital.
TAVR greatly improves a patient’s quality of life. Additionally, since it does not require a surgeon to open the chest, TAVR patients generally recover more quickly, allowing them to return to their jobs, families and lives sooner.
Also known as the atrial appendage closure, the Watchman procedure is appropriate for patients at risk of developing blood clots in the left atrium of their heart. The device is designed to reduce a patient’s risk of stroke and eliminate the need to take blood-thinning medication.
Watchman is a small device placed in the part of the heart where clots are most likely to form. It acts as a barrier to keep clots from entering the bloodstream. St. Luke’s structural cardiologists implant Watchman through a catheter inserted in the leg, similar to the procedure for inserting a stent.
Additional Heart & Vascular Treatments
- Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) repair
- Adult 2D/3D transthoracic and transesophageal echocardiograms
- Angiography - coronary and peripheral
- Arrhythmia ablation with 3D mapping
- Arterial duplex and full lower extremity arterial exams
- Atherectomy - coronary and peripheral
- Atrial septal defect
- Atrial tachycardia/fibrillation
- Balloon valvuloplasty
- Cancer diagnosis and therapy
- Cardiac computed tomography angiography (CTA)
- Cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT)
- Carotid artery stenosis repair (TCAR)
- Chronic total occlusion
- Echocardiography (ECHO)
- Electrocardiogram (ECG/EKG)
- Fetal echocardiograms
- Holter and event monitoring
- Impella device
- Implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) CRT
- Intra-coronary ultrasound and fractional flow reserve testing
- Lead extraction
- Mitral valve repair and replacement
- Mobile cardiac telemetry
- Pacemaker CRT
- Patent foramen ovale (PFO)
- Pediatric transthoracic echocardiograms
- Pelvic congestion syndrome treatment
- Preventive cardiology
- Stents - coronary and peripheral
- Stress echocardiograms
- Tilt-table tests
- Transcatheter closure of left atrial appendage (LAA)
- Transcatheter closure of paravalvular leaks
- Transcatheter closure of septal defects
- Treadmill stress tests
- Tumor microwave ablation
- Uterine artery fibroid treatment
- Ventricular septal defect
- Ventricular tachycardia
- Aortoiliac occlusive disease
- Arm artery disease
- Carotid artery disease - including carotid stenting
- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) treatment
- Diabetic vascular disease
- Facial veins
- Hand veins
- Mesenteric ischemia
- Peripheral aneurysm
- Peripheral artery disease (PAD)/peripheral vascular disease (PVD) endovascular and vascular surgery and treatment
- Pulmonary embolism (PE) intervention and treatment (PE)
- Renal artery stenosis
- Renovascular embolism
- Thoracic aortic aneurysm
- Thoracic outlet syndrome
- Transcarotid artery revascularization
- Varicose vein treatemt
- Vascular access for end stage renal disease
- Vascular quality initiative research (VQI)
- Vascular trauma
- VenaSeal procedure
- Venous insufficiency
- Wound care
Treatment usually consists of hour-long sessions, three times a week, for up to three months, and is covered by most insurance. During these sessions, patient vital signs and heart activity are measured during physical exercise. Activities may involve use of a treadmill, stationary bike, elliptical, rowing or other machines.
St. Luke’s Cardiac Rehab team also incorporates education and provides resources about diet and nutrition. Ultimately, the program gives patients the tools they need for a successful recovery and healthier lifestyle, as well as the confidence to include or reintroduce exercise into their lives.
For more information or to speak to the Cardiac Rehab team, call (319) 369-7736.
Heart Attack and Stroke Warning Signs and Risk FactorsHeart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States. Each year, approximately 1.2 million Americans suffer a heart attack, and nearly one-third of these individuals die, many before they reach the hospital.
People often dismiss heart attack warning signs, such as chest pain, and think they have heartburn or a pulled muscle. Many people wait too long before getting help. Recognize the symptoms of a heart attack and take action immediately.
Heart Attack Warning Signs
The following risk factors have been linked to a higher incidence of heart attack and should be addressed and eliminated. If you, or someone you care about, struggles with any of these risks, talk to your doctor about ways to address or eliminate the factors that can be minimized before they impact your health.
- Increasing age: About 82 percent of people who die of heart disease are 65 or older.
- Gender: Men have a greater risk of heart attack than women and typically have attacks earlier in life.
- Heredity: Children of parents with heart disease are more likely to develop it themselves.
- Smoking: Smokers' risk of developing heart disease is two to four times higher than that of nonsmokers.
- High blood cholesterol: As blood cholesterol rises, so does the risk of heart disease.
- High blood pressure: High blood pressure increases the heart's workload.
- Physical inactivity: An inactive lifestyle is a risk factor for heart disease.
- Obesity and overweight: People who have excess body fat - especially around the waist - are more likely to develop heart disease and stroke.
- Diabetes: Diabetes increases your risk of heart disease.
- Stress: Some scientists have noted a relationship between heart disease risk and stress
Not every heart attack displays the same symptoms. In fact, many people ignore the early signs of a heart attack. Unfortunately, when these early signs are ignored, we miss a "window of opportunity" to prevent the attack before any heart damage can occur. The following signs and symptoms are ones to be aware of in yourself or in your family members:
- Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest. It may last for more than a few minutes, or it may go away and come back. The discomfort may feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness, pain, heartburn or burning in the chest.
- Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. This may include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach
- Shortness of breath may occur with or before chest discomfort
- Other symptoms may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or light-headedness
- Extreme fatigue
- Anxiety or feeling of impending doom
These symptoms may come and go until finally becoming constant and severe. Treatments are most effective when they occur in the early stages of chest pain.
Call 911 immediately if you experience one or more of these symptoms.
About 700,000 Americans suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year. On average, a stroke occurs every 45 seconds. The effects of a stroke can be devastating for both the individual and their family. It's important to call 911 immediately if someone is showing signs of a stroke.
Pay attention to these stroke warning signs:
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden, severe headache with no known cause
If you or someone you know is experiencing signs of a stroke, don't delay. Call 911 right away and ask to be taken to UnityPoint Health - St. Luke's Emergency Department.
Stroke Risk Factors
Individuals age 60 and older are at increased risk for a stroke, as are those with the following risk factors:
- High blood pressure
- High blood cholesterol
- Family history of atherosclerosis (buildup of fat and cholesterol in the arteries)
- Family history of circulatory problems
Work with your primary care provider to minimize or eliminate these risk factors and reduce the risk of stroke.
Women are unique and so are their hearts. Many are unaware that heart attacks are the leading cause of death for women as well as men. Although heart attack risk is the same for both genders, women's bodies often respond differently than men's. Women don't always have pain in their arm or chest when having a heart attack.
Symptoms women may experience during a heart attack include:
- Feeling out of breath
- Pain that runs along the neck, jaw or upper back
- Nausea, vomiting or indigestion
- Unexplained sweating or dizziness
- Sudden, overwhelming fatigue
Women are also less likely than men to believe they're having a heart attack and more likely to delay seeking emergency treatment.
The most important thing you can do? Trust your body. If you think something is wrong, call 911 immediately.
How to Perform Hands-Only CPR and Use an AED
When a person experiences cardiac arrest, their heart beats irregularly or stops, disrupting the flow of blood to the brain, lungs and rest of the body. Approximately 90% of those who suffer cardiac arrest outside the hospital die. Immediate CPR and use of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) can double or triple a person’s chance of survival.
- Call 911 first
- Use hard part of palm on hand of choice
- Place hands in center of person’s chest, just below the sternum
- Push hard and fast
- Perform about 100-120 compressions per minute, to the beat of “Stayin’ Alive,” by the Bee Gees, or the children’s song “Baby Shark”
- Press two inches deep
- Any CPR is better than none
St. Luke's Heart Clinics
St. Luke's cardiologists and trained staff travel to more communities in eastern Iowa than any other hospital in the area to bring heart care consultation and cardiac diagnostic services to you, so there's no need to travel. When you need a heart doctor, turn to the largest team of cardiologists and the area's most advanced structural heart experts at St. Luke's, Cedar Rapids' Heart Hospital.
Contact St. Luke's Heart Care Clinic at (319) 364-7101 to find your nearest location or search for St. Luke's cardiology providers.