Award-winning cardiac care in Denver, CO

Whether you have unexplained chest pain, need cardiac testing or are experiencing a heart attack, The Heart Center at Swedish Medical Center offers comprehensive cardiac care through coordination of EMS responders, the ER and an experienced team of healthcare professionals who will ensure you receive appropriate and timely care for your condition.

If you or a loved one is experiencing chest pain, call 911.

Our program has been recognized by the American Heart Association (AHA) for our commitment and success in implementing a higher standard of care for heart attack patients, improving the survival and care of our ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) patients. We received Get with the Guidelines® recognition from the AHA for providing excellent care for heart failure. We also have a Joint Commission certification in coronary artery disease, open heart surgeries, such as coronary artery bypass graft (CABG), and heart failure.

Heart related conditions we treat

The Heart Center provides care for:

  • Acute coronary syndrome
  • Aortic aneurysms/abdominal aortic aneurysms
  • Angina (chest pain)
  • Arrhythmia
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Atrial septal defect (birth defect that causes a hole in the wall between the heart’s upper chambers)
  • Cardiomyopathy (hereditary disease of the heart muscle)
  • Carotid artery disease
  • Chest pain
  • Congenital heart defects
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Deep vein thrombosis (blood clot in a deep vein, usually in the legs)
  • Diabetes
  • Diastolic dysfunction (stiff heart muscles)
  • Heart attack
  • Heart murmurs
  • Heart valve diseases
  • High blood pressure
  • Long Q-T syndrome (heart rhythm disorder that can cause fast, chaotic heartbeats)
  • Mitral valve prolapse (improper valve closure between the upper and lower left chambers)
  • Myocarditis (heart wall inflammation)
  • Patent foramen ovale (hole between the upper chambers of the heart)
  • Pericarditis (swelling of the membrane surrounding the heart)
  • Peripheral vascular disease
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Rheumatic fever (disease resulting from inadequate treatment of strep throat or scarlet fever)
  • Silent ischemia (restricted flow of oxygen-rich blood)
  • Stroke
  • Sudden cardiac arrest
  • Syncope (fainting as a result of low blood pressure)

Our low-risk chest pain program

If a patient is experiencing unexplained chest pain, they are typically admitted to the ER. Upon admission, there is observation, monitoring and a stress test—a process taking 18 to 24 hours to complete, including an overnight stay in the hospital. At Swedish, our progressive process can be completed in only eight hours and does not require you to leave the ED. Our program is only used when initial assessment tests rule out that a heart attack is causing a patient’s chest pain and/or other symptoms.

We know that chest pain and the symptoms of discomfort can cause high anxiety for our patients. Symptoms can be hard to diagnose without a series of tests. Our nurse practitioners (NP) see patients and use a holistic approach to determine if the symptoms indicate cardiac stress of any kind. Chest pain NPs have increased availability with expanded hours, covering both the main campus and the Southwest ER in Littleton. NPs at Swedish are on campus more hours (7:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.) than any other facility in the city.

Cardiac catheterization lab

In our cardiac catheterization lab, we offer heart screening, cardiac caths and electrophysiology (EP) procedures. Electrophysiology procedures or studies, like angiograms, are performed to examine the electrical system of your heart. Our outpatient cath lab team provides excellent care and takes pride in superior cardiac skills. Outpatient procedures generally do not require an overnight stay at the hospital.

To learn more about our outpatient cath lab services, call (303) 788-4130.

Aortic stenosis

Our heart doctors are specialized in heart valve consultation and treatment of aortic stenosis—mild, moderate or severe. Our interventional cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons work closely with referring physicians to establish a personalized care plan and deliver the newest and most effective treatments for you or a loved one’s heart-valve disorder.

What are the causes of aortic stenosis?

Often developing later in life, aortic stenosis is sometimes caused by the buildup of age-related calcium. Other common causes include congenital birth defects and radiation therapy. Aortic stenosis occurs more prominently in people over 65 years of age and is more common in men than women.

Symptoms of aortic stenosis

While aortic stenosis may be mild and not produce symptoms, narrowing of the aortic valve over time may result in more severe heart problems.

Symptoms of aortic stenosis include:

  • Becoming tired easily
  • Trouble breathing during exercise
  • Chest discomfort extending to the arm, neck or jaw
  • Cough, possibly bloody
  • Fainting, weakness or dizziness with activity
  • Heart palpitations

Symptoms of advanced aortic stenosis include:

  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Blood clots to the brain (stroke), intestines, kidneys or other areas
  • Fainting spells
  • Heart failure
  • High blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs

In infants and children, symptoms include:

  • Heart infection
  • Becoming easily tired with exertion
  • Failure to gain weight
  • Poor feeding
  • Serious breathing problems that develop within days or weeks of birth

How is aortic stenosis diagnosed?

If your healthcare provider hears a murmur or other abnormal heart sound, detects changes in the quality of your pulse or feels your heart vibrating, a variety of tests may be performed in order to diagnose you, including:

  • Echocardiogram/electrocardiogram (ECG/EKG)
  • Exercise stress testing
  • Left cardiac catheterization
  • MRI of the heart
  • Transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE)

While there is no medical treatment for mild/moderate aortic stenosis, we can manage symptoms. If you are diagnosed, medication such as diuretics, nitrates and beta-blocker may be prescribed to help relieve symptoms.

If you have severe aortic stenosis, you may need valve replacement surgery, which is the only treatment option. We perform two primary approaches to valve replacement surgery:

Aortic valve replacement (AVR): If you are physically well enough to tolerate open-heart surgery, AVR can successfully remove the aortic valve and replace it with either a mechanical or biological valve made from human or animal tissue.

Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR): If you are unable to have open-heart surgery, categorized as high-risk or have severe aortic stenosis, TAVR is an alternative procedure that inserts a new aortic valve with the assistance of a catheter.

Lifestyle changes can also be an effective treatment. While children with mild aortic stenosis may be able to take part in most activities, adults with severe aortic stenosis may be told to limit strenuous activity and avoid playing competitive sports, even if they have no symptoms.

For more information on aortic stenosis, the AVR or TAVR procedures or to learn more about our services, feel free to call our team at (303) 788-4759.

Inferior vena cava filter placement and removal

During the inferior vena cava (IVC) filter placement procedure, a filtering device is put within the IVC, a large vein in the abdomen responsible for returning blood from the lower half of the body to the heart. IVC filters help trap large clots to prevent them from reaching the heart and lungs. This can reduce the risk of pulmonary embolism. This procedure is used for patients who don’t respond to or cannot be given conventional medical therapy, like blood thinners.  

To remove the IVC filter, a catheter is inserted and advanced to the site of the filter. The filter has a small hook or knob at the end that allows the catheter to capture the filter, close it and withdraw it from the body.