Grateful for new heart
Howard H. White marvels that the generosity of Phil and Penny Knight allowed him to receive a new heart close to home. “It was a Sunday morning in 2017 when my doctors told me I might need a new heart,” he said. “And three years later, a donation makes a transplant program right here, almost right down the street. That’s wonderful!”
A talented athlete and advisor to Michael Jordan and other sports stars, Howard had been fit all his life. Suddenly in 2017, it became hard for him to climb stairs. “One night my wife told me the real thing,” he said. “She didn’t know if she could go to sleep because she thought I might stop breathing.”
Physicians at Providence Heart Institute’s Center for Advanced Heart Disease diagnosed Howard with cardiac amyloidosis, a condition that seriously weakens the heart’s ability to pump blood. “They told me then I might need a new heart,” Howard remembered.
With the care of Jacob Abraham, M.D., Howard managed his condition with medications and exercise. On Dec. 11, 2020, he went for a routine test. “The way my heart was, they said most people wouldn’t be able to walk into the appointment.”
On Dr. Abraham’s advice, Howard stayed in the hospital, and the transplant team went to work. He received his new heart on Dec. 28. Today he’s wearing out a treadmill and riding an exercise bike up to 14 miles a day. He gives the same advice to fellow patients that he gives to professional athletes: “It’s what happens above your shoulders that keeps you moving forward.”
Of the heart institute team that gave him a new heart, he says, “They were spectacular. I’ve been around a lot of teams with superstars. If they can’t work together, it’s no good. On that team, I detected no egos – just brilliant people working together for a common goal.”
Sharing good health with family
Silvia Montez understands teamwork. “The main reason we are hitting our goals is that we are all going in the same direction,” she said.
Silvia’s family is part of Fundamentos FIT, a donor-supported program to help Spanish-speaking families improve their heart health. After helping plan the program, Silvia and her family are in the first group testing it out. Within four weeks, she saw changes in her blood pressure and cholesterol. “I worked for years to improve those, and in just one month, it got a lot better. Working with my family means a lot. I take care of my own health and share that with them.”
Silvia is a member of the Providence Promotores de Salud de la Iglesia (Parish Health Promoter Program). The Promotores volunteers build healthier communities through parish-based health promotion and leadership training in the Latino community. Volunteers share health-related information and serve as liaisons between Providence and the community. When Basecamp wanted to adapt its successful Families in Training (FIT) Project for a Latino audience, teaming up with the Promotores program was only natural.
“I had had great experiences working with the Promotores before,” said Tara Timothy, director of cardiac prevention and wellness at Providence Basecamp. “So, we partnered with those families to create an eight-week program in Spanish. Everyone sets their goals and gets together online once a week with Spanish-speaking certified trainers, nutritionists and wellness coaches.”
Because the whole family participates, each member is better able to meet their goals. “Having our meeting as a family, working on our goals, it’s a really fun time, and we can learn from each other,” said Silvia. “Working together, even 15 or 20 minutes, it’s really joyful as a family.”
“I need to share with my community what we can do, how can we make small changes that will make us a better life,” said Silvia. “I definitely recommend it to anybody.”
Heart to Start goes virtual
Thanks to teamwork, the pandemic didn’t slow down Season 9 of Heart to Start, the heart institute’s free mid-winter exercise program. Instead, it accelerated the program.
More than 2,000 people from 18 states and Canada participated, nearly triple the number who joined the year before. “We didn’t want to stop because of COVID,” said Tracie Rose, Basecamp program manager, “because that’s when people needed it most.”
When COVID restrictions took effect, Heart to Start quickly shifted gears for two groups mid-season in Walla Walla and Medford, encouraging participants to exercise on their own and improvising virtual events. “We learned a lot in a short period of time,” she shared.
When it was time to plan Season 9 for the Portland area, Tracie and local Heart to Start program champions knew participants would need to exercise on their own and that everything else - all the support, encouragement and community building that distinguish Heart to Start from many other exercise programs – would need to be virtual. They extended the invitation for the virtual program to participants in Portland, Seaside, Hood River, Willamette Valley, Medford and Walla Walla.
Tracie and Heart to Start leaders then partnered with Oregon Brewery Running Series, which had experience organizing virtual running events. Working with the series, the Heart to Start team expanded the 12-week program to include weekly emails, inspirational Zoomcasts and live conversations with experts, a private Facebook group for social interaction, and an app-based tracking program to help monitor progress. “We also decided to take this opportunity to share Heart to Start throughout the seven-state Providence system,” said Tracie.
The decision was more successful than anticipated and set the stage for continued growth in Season 10. “We’ll continue the virtual program through 2021,” said Tracie. “We had great turn-out in new communities, including Texas and Alaska. For Season 10, we’re reaching out to those communities to find local champions and expand our program to include other types of exercise. We want everyone to feel welcome and supported, no matter their pace or choice of movement.”
Largest Single Center TAVR Experience
Congratulations to the Providence Heart Institute valve team on the completion and publication of a manuscript about the largest single-center experience with transcarotid TAVR. Results of the study demonstrate comparable results between transcarotid (146) vs. transfemoral (1,319) access with regards to 30-day and 1-year stroke and mortality at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center. We believe this will continue to drive the conversation regarding best practices for TAVR in patients with challenging vascular access.
Eric Kirker, M.D., describes the transcarotid technique in this instructive video. (Note: video is age-restricted due to images of surgery.)
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