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Preventing, Detecting and Treating Heart Disease

Chances are you or someone you love will die from heart disease. It’s the number one killer of men and women not only in Oklahoma, but also in the United States.

In the battle for healthy hearts, Norman Regional’s Heart Hospital is arming people with the tools, knowledge and interventions they need to defeat disease. Through prevention, detection and treatment Norman Regional’s Heart Hospital at the HealthPlex is bringing together all the pieces for total heart health.

Dr. Kyle Toal is a cardiothoracic surgeon who practices at Norman Regional. He also serves as the Medical Director of Norman Regional’s cardiovascular services.

“It’s important that people become dedicated fighters of the number one adult killer in the United States, armed with a full knowledge of all the options available to them, no matter where they choose to have their healthcare,” Toal said.

Located on Interstate 35 and Tecumseh Road in Norman, the Heart Hospital at the HealthPlex has a Chest Pain Center, specialized staff and critical care unit all dedicated to heart patients. Its program also features rehabilitation and exercise for patients recovering from heart surgery.

Most people want to avoid going to the hospital for heart problems, so how can they prevent disease from occurring? Toal said that preventative measures will be at the forefront of all future treatment plans for people with heart issues.

“One thing I have learned in more than thirty years as a physician is that there are no miracle cures,” Toal said. “The best treatment is the hardest treatment, prevention, and that involves a lot of motivation.”

Toal’s tips for a healthy heart include:

  • 45 minutes of exercise a day, either in one session or multiple times throughout the day
  • A heart-healthy diet such as a Mediterranean, high in fish, vegetables and whole grains
  • A daily low-dose aspirin
  • Reducing stress

“Most of us want a pill or a 12-step program to treat heart problems. We want a quick fix surgery or we want someone to do it for us when really the answer lies within all of us,” Toal said.

It is critical to catch heart disease early. Talk to your doctor if you have any risk factors for heart disease such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or a family history of the disease. Obesity and tobacco use are also risk factors and can contribute to heart disease.

Norman Regional also offers heart scans, a simple test that measures the amount of calcium buildup within the arteries and heart. This test only costs $100 and can be completed in as little as 10 minutes. Much like a CAT scan, the heart scan takes a picture of the heart that physicians can use to see any potential problems.

Toal said his advice to patients suffering from any form of cardiovascular disease is to explore both operative and non-operative options. The same condition can, in most cases, have more than one possible treatment and treatment can be tailored to the patient and their condition.

At the Norman Regional Heart Hospital, physicians employ the latest advancements in cardiac care. These include endograft stenting of aortic aneurysms, which has largely replaced open repair of an aneurysm. This procedure can shorten a patient’s hospital stay from two weeks to one day, Toal said. Also performed at the heart hospital is off-pump coronary bypass, commonly referred to as “beating heart surgery.” When patients only need one or two bypasses, surgeons can perform surgery without stopping the heart. Toal said this reflects the Society of Thoracic Surgeons best practice guidelines.

Other advances at Norman’s heart hospital include video-assisted thoracic surgery, endoscopic vein harvest and - coming soon - robotic-assisted thoracic surgery. In fact, the only two procedures not performed at the hospital are heart transplants and robotic mitral valve repair.

Even after surgery or an interventional procedure, Norman Regional has programs for its heart patients. A specialized cardiac rehabilitation unit helps get patients back to their normal activities. Rehab at Norman’s Heart Hospital also includes a free gym membership for when patients return home.

“Life after open heart surgery had better be more active, fuller, more gratifying, more work, and more youthful or it is not being done for the right reason in my opinion,” Toal said.

Norman Regional’s nationally certified cardiac rehab program also provides nutritional information, diabetes education, body composition testing and monitoring and psychological support for the patient and family.

“The most positive predictive factor of post-operative success following an open heart surgery is the patient’s own dedication to and practice of the aforementioned exercise, dietary and lifestyle modifications and how rigorously they apply themselves,” Toal said.

For more information about the Norman Regional Heart Hospital at the HealthPlex visit You can also be referred to a cardiologist or any physician 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling HealthLink at (405) 440-8802.

“At Norman Regional’s Heart Hospital, we don’t care where you go for your heart care,” Toal said. “Far more important to us is to dedicate ourselves to patient education and state-of-the-art disease detection technology to make patients aware of the disease process and all of the choices available for their successful and well-informed treatment.”

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Contact Kelly Wells
Norman Regional Health System

Office (405) 307.2143
Fax (405) 307.2144