Heart Health Info

Heart Disease is the leading cause of death for men and women.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reports that 1 in every 4 deaths are due to heart disease.  Every 40 seconds, someone has a heart attack and each minute more than one person in the U.S. dies from a Heart Disease related issue. In addition, Heart Disease is estimated to cost the U.S. about $200 million annually.

Heart Disease is both deadly and costly, but there are many recommended steps that you can take to significantly reduce your risk of complications, including understanding local resources available to you at St. James Parish Hospital.

8 Steps to Big Changes

  1. Be More Active
  2. Manage Blood Pressure
  3. Control Cholesterol
  4. Eat Better
  5. Manage Blood Sugar
  6. Manage Weight
  7. Quit Tobacco
  8. Get Healthy Sleep
When thinking about all of the lifestyle choices and habits that can affect Heart Health, the idea of leading a healthier life can feel daunting. To make it more simple, the American Heart Association promotes the Life’s Essential 8 campaign to help patients tackle Heart Health by choosing to make the changes that make the biggest impact. In addition to offering information about each of the 8 Steps to Big Changes, the American Heart Association offers a Life Check® for patients to assess their risk. Click Here to create a profile and find out your Heart Score.

Recommended Guidelines

  • Physical Activity – According to health.gov, physical activity reduces the risk of not only heart disease, but also type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer, and depression. Guidelines for people of different ages vary, but in general, 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity is recommended.
  • Blood Pressure – Second to only smoking, high blood pressure is a top cause of preventable heart disease and stroke deaths. For the first time in over a decade, the American Heart Association redefined Blood Pressure Guidelines (actually making them more strict). Under the new guidelines, almost half of the entire U.S. population has high blood pressure. This change was done in an effort to promote earlier intervention for patients.
  • Cholesterol – According to the CDC, if you have high cholesterol, your risk of heart disease compared to people with lower levels is nearly double. Generally, total cholesterol should be under 200 mg/dL. However, your physician may have more personalized recommendations based on your health history.
  • Diet – The American Heart Association encourages people to learn more about the actual number of calories you need for your age, gender, and level of physical activity. Though most labels are based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet, you may need more or fewer calories. Eating a variety of nutritious foods from all food groups is highly encouraged to give your body the minerals, proteins, and whole grains it needs.
  • Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Children require more: 10-16 hours for ages 5 and younger, including naps; 9-12 hours for ages 6-12; and 8-10 hours for ages 13-18. Adequate sleep promotes healing, improves brain function and reduces the risk for chronic diseases.

Resources You Can Trust

Cardiology Services & Diagnostics

  • Holter Monitors
  • EKGs (inpatient and outpatient)
  • Treadmill Exercise Stress Tests
  • Stress Echocardiography (Echo Stress Test)
  • Nuclear Medicine Myocardial Stress Tests (Nuclear Exercise Stress Test)
  • Resting Imaging Stress Tests
  • Echocardiograms (Ultrasound Echo Study)
  • Cardiac Ultrasounds
  • ER Telemedicine (Telecardiology and Telestroke)
  • Cardiac Enzyme (helps diagnose a heart attack – CPK, CKMB, Troponin)
  • Ultrasound Vascular Exams (circulatory system check)
  • MRI
  • Post-Stroke Skilled Services 
  • Educational Events
  • CPR Classes
  • Community-wide Screenings (Chem & Lipid Profile Screenings)

Heart Health Related Screenings & Services

  • High-density Lipoprotein (HDL) Cholesterol (“good” cholesterol)
  • Low-density Lipoprotein (LDL) Cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol)
  • Total Cholesterol (LDL+ HDL)
  • BMI Screenings
  • Blood Pressure Screenings
  • Heart Rate / Pulse
  • Pulse Oximetry
  • Primary Care Wellness Visits (with insurance-approved screenings)
  • Medicare Wellness Visits
  • Chronic Care Management
  • Community Events

Cardiologists & Cardiology Support


St. James Parish Hospital is a partner of the Ochsner CareConnect 360 Telemedicine Program, which is an innovative solution that allows us to offer specialized care for patients locally. Through videoconferencing, remote monitoring, electronic consults, and wireless communications, Telemedicine expands patient access while improving patient outcomes.

Heart Attack

Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a Heart Attack (790,000 per year). A heart attack, also called a myocardial infarction, occurs when a part of the heart muscle doesn’t receive enough blood flow. The more time that passes without treatment to restore blood flow, the greater the damage to the heart muscle.

Heart Attack Symptoms

  • Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back
  • Feeling weak, light-headed, or faint
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Pain or discomfort in arms or shoulder
  • Shortness of breath
If you or someone you know is having the above symptoms, call 911 immediately.

Emergency Cardiology Services
St. James Parish Hospital partners with Baton Rouge Cardiology Center for Telecardiology services. This partnership allows staff and ER Physicians at St. James Parish Hospital to consult with a cardiologist during heart-related emergencies. If a patient presents to the ER with a possible heart attack, Telemedicine technology is utilized to conduct a computer-assisted cardiac screening during a remote consult with a cardiologist. The cardiologist can talk to the patient and family members, see real-time vitals and utilize this information to determine a plan of care for the patient.


A stroke is a sudden interruption in the blood supply of the brain. Most strokes are caused by an abrupt blockage of arteries leading to the brain (ischemic stroke). Other strokes are caused by bleeding into brain tissue when a blood vessel bursts (hemorrhagic stroke). According to the CDC, every year about 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke and 140,000 people die from one. High blood pressure is the leading cause of stroke and is the main cause for increased risk of stroke among people with diabetes.

Stroke Symptoms

Treating a stroke quickly can reduce damage to the brain. If you think someone may be having a stroke, act F.A.S.T. and perform the following simple test:

F—Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
A—Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S—Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is the speech slurred or strange?
T—Time: If you see any of these signs, call 911 right away.

Sudden confusion and dizziness are also often reported during a stroke.

The brain is affected as soon as the first symptoms appear. When it comes to a stroke, “time is brain.” In the event of a possible stroke, call 911 and choose the closest ER.  Try to make note of the time you or your family member was “last known normal.” This time will be important when healthcare providers make treatment decisions.

Emergency Stroke Care

Through our Telestroke program, ER physicians at St. James Parish Hospital have the ability to consult immediately with an off-site Ochsner vascular neurologist 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to determine the best treatment options for stroke patients. Ochsner Medical Center was the first hospital in Louisiana to use Telemedicine to treat a stroke. This program is part of one of the fastest growing networks in the country.

Utilizing secure wireless data and video communication, Ochsner’s stroke team partners with clinicians at St. James Parish Hospital to evaluate, diagnose, and direct care for stroke patients, as well as to ensure that timely thrombolytic therapy – to dissolve blood-clots – is administered (when appropriate). Ischemic stroke, the most common, is usually caused by a blood clot that blocks or plugs a blood vessel in the brain. Within minutes, brain cells begin to die.

The drug tPA (tissue plasminogen activator) is the only FDA-approved treatment for ischemic strokes. tPA is a medication given through an IV that works by dissolving blood clots and improving blood flow to the brain. The American Heart Association considers the use of tPA, when applicable, a Class I recommendation due to its effectiveness. This treatment is offered at St. James Parish Hospital and has been extremely effective in saving lives in our community.

The Telestroke Program, an innovative approach to stroke care, has helped us:

  • Reduce the time needed to determine if a patient suffered a stroke
  • Increase the percentage of patients receiving tPA
  • Reduce the death rate associated with stroke

Read a recent article about our telestroke program in our Care Connection Newsletter (pages 4-5).  

Post Stroke Care 

Depending on the severity of a stroke, many patients may need additional, longer-term care before they are ready to return home or to a nursing home. St. James Parish Hospital is certified to provide quality, close-to-home skilled nursing services to help patients who may need extensive Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy following a stroke.

Our program is typically covered by insurance for qualified patients. Patients who choose St. James Parish Hospital for skilled (swing bed) services have easier access to specialists, diagnostics, and emergency treatment if needed. Our team also ensures that skilled patients are treated with compassion in an environment that feels more like home.

For those patients who are discharged home, St. James Parish Hospital also has an experienced multidisciplinary team that offers outpatient Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy. Our therapists use the latest-evidence based practices to help patients regain independence and function to return to the hobbies and lifestyles they enjoy.

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