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Saint Francis Healthcare focuses on improved heart-health services


Dialog Editor


If you develop heart disease, Saint Francis Healthcare in Wilmington can help you with updated labs and a new cardiovascular practice, but if you’d rather avoid heart problems in the future, Dr. Audrey Sernyak, director of SFH cardiovascular services, has a heart-health tip for you.

“Don’t smoke,” she said.

“Smoking increases your risk of heart disease threefold. I’ll live with all your other vices in this world, if I can get you to quit smoking.”

However, if smoking or lack of exercise or high cholesterol or uncontrolled diabetes prompts a heart ailment, Dr. Sernyak and Saint Francis are ready to help with two upgraded cardiology labs and a new practice, Partners in CardioVascular Health, at Wilmington’s only Catholic hospital.

In addition to Dr. Sernyak, Saint Francis’ new cardiology practice includes Dr. Svetlana Katsev and Dr. Yolanda Hedley.

The doctors will take advantage of the up-to-date labs at Saint Francis where about 600 cardiac catheterizations are performed each year.

The procedures can diagnose some heart conditions by inserting flexible tubes through an artery in a hip or wrist that are threaded to the heart.

In one test, a dye flows through the heart that can be seen on X-rays and reveal blocked or clear coronary arteries.

The minimally invasive procedure is performed while a patient is conscious.

Dr. Sernyak told The Dialog that some patients may need a stent inserted in a narrowing artery to keep it open, in other cases stents aren’t needed and medicine can treat the patients.

The physician also said the SFH cardiology labs have new equipment that provide better imaging and lower doses of radiation in the X-ray process.

Dr. Sernyak has been a cardiologist for 14 years. She previously practiced at Our Lady of Lourdes Health System in Camden, N.J., which is also part of Trinity Health, SFH’s parent company.

In addition to quitting smoking and exercising, Dr. Sernyak recommends statin cholesterol-lowering medicines to help prevent heart disease.

“Clearly they have been shown to reduce heart events and disease,” she said. “For the most part the population tolerates them well. We have nothing else that has that kind of benefits. They (statin drugs) are one of our greatest benefits in treating heart disease.”

As for starting the cardiovascular practice with her two colleagues at Saint Francis Health, Dr. Sernyak said, “We’re thrilled to be part of the community.”

Dr. Sernyak completed her internal medicine residency and an interventional cardiology fellowship at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center’s Parkland Hospital.

Partners in CardioVascular Health practice is in SFH’s Medical Services Building on North Clayton Street in Wilmington.