The clinic, held Tuesday afternoons at the Loyola Center for Health at Burr Ridge, treats patients who are at high risk for cardiovascular events or already have been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease and are at risk for further problems.
"The clinic will offer a unique, multidisciplinary approach to reducing cardiovascular risk, as well as providing expert management of difficult-to-control blood pressure, cholesterol and other lipid abnormalities," said Verghese Mathew, MD, director of Loyola's division of cardiology. "We are providing these types of patient-centered approaches to improve health and wellness of all those we serve."
Khaled Dajani, MD, medical director of the clinic, noted there are excellent medications and procedures to treat heart problems. "But the best strategy is to prevent cardiovascular events from occurring in the first place, and that is the goal of our clinic."
The clinic will offer advanced imaging technologies that can detect cardiovascular disease before a patient feels symptoms. These noninvasive tests may include stress testing; coronary calcium scan or coronary CT scan (which produces pictures of coronary arteries to determine if they are blocked or narrowed by plaque buildup); carotid intimal thickness test (detects early atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries); and ankle-brachial index test (indicates whether there is narrowing or blockages in leg arteries).
To better predict an individual's cardiovascular risk, the clinic also offers newer blood tests including hsCRP (which measures inflammation in the body, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease) and LDL particle size testing (to measure how bad a patient's LDL cholesterol is).
Patients undergo a comprehensive, holistic evaluation for risk factors including age, family history, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking and diabetes. Patients learn how to modify their risk with diet, exercise and other lifestyle adjustments.
The multidisciplinary team includes cardiologists, advanced practice nurses and nutritionists, and provides referrals to exercise physiologists. Every patient receives an individualized treatment plan with short- and long-term goals. The plan includes medications if needed and simple, achievable lifestyle changes. Patients receive physical activity counseling and an exercise training program, along with nutrition education and risk factor counseling.
The clinic welcomes patients who have been unable to control their cholesterol, either because the statin medications they are taking do not lower cholesterol sufficiently or because the drugs cause intolerable side effects. The clinic will offer an individualized plan that can include a combination of traditional statins and newer medications such as injectable PCSK9 inhibitors.
Some patients are genetically prone to such dangerously high levels of cholesterol that no amount of diet, exercise and medications can reduce their cholesterol to safe levels. Loyola offers a treatment called LDL apheresis, which is similar to kidney dialysis. Once every two weeks, a patient spends two to four hours connected to an apheresis unit that removes 70-to-80 percent of the patient’s LDL cholesterol then returns the blood to the body. The good HDL cholesterol is not removed.
Dr. Dajani is a board-certified cardiologist with expertise in preventive cardiology, hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol) and non-invasive cardiac imaging.
Loyola's cardiology and heart surgery teams deliver advanced care for a broad range of heart and vascular problems. U.S. News & World Report ranks Loyola 18th in the country in Cardiology and Heart Surgery.