Who Does Your Heart Beat For? Keep It Going Strong with Expert Cardiac Care


You can take it, lose it, follow it, cross it, or wear it on your sleeve. Whatever you decide to do with your heart, Dignity Health Bakersfield Memorial Hospital is here to make sure you never miss a beat.

The Sarvanand Heart and Brain Center at Memorial Hospital is the premier facility in the Southern Valley dedicated to offering advanced treatment of heart and vascular conditions. Whether your heart condition results from structural defects, blood flow or abnormal heart rhythms our specialists will develop an individual treatment plan for the best possible outcome.

Advanced Heart Care Here at Home

Memorial Hospital is one of the select providers in the nation to offer patients a minimally invasive procedure for heart valve replacement. Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) allows for valve replacement without opening a patient’s chest.

“TAVR is a less invasive procedure for patients with severe aortic stenosis, who are too frail for traditional open-heart surgery,” says Michele Shain, Senior Director of Cardiovascular and Neuroscience Services for Bakersfield Memorial Hospital. “Patients suffering from aortic stenosis are often very fatigued and their daily activities are curtailed due to low energy and shortness of breath. Offering this procedure here in Bakersfield keeps them from having to travel several hours away.”

The procedure takes place in a cardiac catheterization laboratory and is performed by a team of specialists that include an interventional cardiologist and a cardiovascular surgeon. During TAVR, the surgeon attaches the replacement heart valve onto a balloon which is inserted via catheter through an incision in the patient’s groin. The new valve is positioned into the faulty aortic valve and the balloon is inflated, precisely positioning the replacement valve.

Recovery time for traditional replacement surgery is quite lengthy, but TAVR patients usually go home within 24 hours and can return to normal activities within a few days. Many patients experience a dramatic improvement of their symptoms immediately following surgery.

“Our very first patient felt so good after the procedure, that when it was time for him to be discharged from the hospital, we brought him a wheelchair and he said ‘I’m not using that! I feel so good I’m walking out of here.’ And he did,” said Shain.

Dignity Health Memorial Hospital also offers a cutting-edge procedure for people suffering from certain types of atrial fibrillation. The WATCHMAN Left Atrial Appendage Closure Implant offers patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation an alternative to the life-long use of blood thinner medications.

“AFIB is not just an older person’s condition,” said Shain. “It’s not ideal to be on long-term blood thinners, especially if you have an active lifestyle, job or medical condition that puts you at risk for bleeding.”

AFIB is a regular, irregular heartbeat. The condition decreases the heart’s pumping capacity which can increase the risk for blood clots. If a blood clot escapes from the heart and travels to another part of the body it can cut off the blood supply to the brain, causing a stroke.

The WATCHMAN Implant closes off an area of the heart called the left atrial appendage to keep potentially harmful blood clots from entering the blood stream. Implanting the device is a one time, minimally invasive procedure. Patients typically stay in the hospital for 24 hours. After the procedure patients must stay on blood thinning medication for 45 days while the device heals. During that time heart tissue will grow over the implant to form a barrier against blood clots.

High Tech Treatments and Tests Saves Lives

In addition to state-of-the-art procedures, Memorial Hospital offers the latest cardiovascular technology to minimize your pain and shorten your recovery. We’ve designed our catheterization labs and operating rooms with the most sophisticated imaging available.

“Memorial is the only hospital in the Southern Valley equipped with a hybrid suite for the treatment of aortic aneurysms. It is part catheterization lab and part operating suite,” said Shain. “If complications happen and we must open a patient we can do it right there in the room, without having to move them. Being able to make this quick transition can be life-saving.”

An aortic aneurysm is an abnormal bulge that occurs in the wall of the major blood vessel (aorta) that carries blood from your heart to your body. If an aneurysm bursts it can cause massive internal bleeding and is usually fatal.

If caught early aneurysms and other vascular disease can be treated to prevent serious problems and even death. That’s why Memorial Hospital offers the Dare to C.A.R.E. screening program. Dare to C.A.R.E. focuses on abnormalities that cause abdominal aortic aneurysms, carotid artery disease, extremity artery disease and renal artery stenosis. To be eligible for the free screening you must meet certain age and health criteria.

The screening takes about 20 minutes. It uses ultrasound technology to evaluate a patient from their neck to their ankles. After the screening, your results will be shared with you as well as your doctor.

“One gentleman came in for the screening and we discovered he had a very large abdominal aortic aneurysm. It was so large that it was just a matter of time before it ruptured,” said Shain. “Because it was detected by the screening, he was able to have life-saving surgery.”

To learn more about the program or to schedule your free screening call 661-632-7438.  

Don’t Skip Cardiac Rehab

If you are struggling to recover after suffering from a major cardiac event, you don’t have to do it alone. Memorial Hospital offers Cardiac Rehab, an outpatient program to help you be successful in the battle against heart disease through exercise, education and risk factor reduction.

“Cardiac Rehab allows patients to exercise in a monitored setting, several days a week,” said Shain. “This can be very helpful because many times patients are nervous to exercise after a major cardiac event because they are afraid something is going to go wrong.”

An Exercise Physiologist will evaluate the patient and create an exercise routine catered to their abilities. Over time, patients can increase their strength and stamina.

“Along with learning about a healthy diet and exercise routine, patients often develop a support group. Depression is not uncommon after cardiac events so getting patients up and moving is really beneficial in the recovery process.”

Nationally Recognized Care and Team of Cardiac Experts

From preventative care to state-of the art diagnostic and treatment technologies, Memorial Hospital provides a full range of cardiovascular services at the Sarvanand Heart and Brain Center. Doctors, nurses and support staff consistently meet the highest health, quality and safety standards to earn prestigious accreditations and certifications. Memorial Hospital is accredited by The Joint Commission and has been awarded its Gold Seal of Approval. It’s also an accredited STEMI receiving facility (STEMI stands for ST Elevation Myocardial Infraction, the deadliest type of a heart attack) and has earned Chest Pain Accreditation from the American College of Cardiology.

“Certifications are important because they show that we’ve demonstrated to outside entities that we can deliver the standard of care that is set forth by those organizations.”

Whether you are admitted to the hospital or have an outpatient procedure, our specially trained cardiology providers will be there for you every step of the way.

“The great thing about Memorial Hospital is we can treat you regardless of what kind of cardiac or neurological condition you have,” said Shain. “That means we don’t have to transfer patients around the community to insure they get the care that they need.”