Heart program at Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital helps keep patients healthy

PHOENIX (FOX 10) -- There is a new, unique program in the Valley for heart failure patients to keep them out of the hospital.

The Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital started this program in 2017, and since then, it's seen a 98% success rate. While there are a lot of programs across the country and around the world for heart failure patients, the program at Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital is unique, in that it focuses on not only the heart, but other organs as well, like the kidney.

"I get up and around, move around," said Vincent Waddell. For him, it's a huge improvement from just two years ago, after he was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy. It's a disease where the heart muscle becomes enlarged, thick and rigid.

When Waddell lived in Oregon, he used to be in a wheelchair, and used a cane to get up.

"I was told by doctors that I needed a heart transplant, so I moved to Arizona," said Waddell.

Heart failure contributes to one in nine deaths in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, what a lot of doctors don't think about is the health of the kidney along with the heart, and the two organs' close connection.

"Kidney component is a unique component that many people are not thinking," said Congestive Heart Failure Medical Director Dr. Kris Vijay. "Kidney disease, at the same time, use the medication that can harm the kidney or that can actually be beneficial to the kidney."

Dr. Vijay put Waddell into his new program at Abrazo's Congestive Heart Failure and Cardio-Renal Center. As a cardiologist, Dr. Vijay works closely with his patients' kidney doctors, or their nephrologist. He also works with pharmacists, nutritionists, cardiac rehab staff and a heart failure nurse navigator.

"One-stop shop, and you make the impact with the patient management with an algorithm," said Dr. Vijay.

Nationally, the number of heart failure patients who end up going back into hospitals is around 25% to 30%. At Abrazo, they were amazingly able to bring that number down to 1.2%, after just 30 days of treatment.

The treatment and medication are just one component of the recovery process. Dr. Vijay says it's also up the patients to have a healthy mindset, to not give up hope, and to really change their lifestyle when it comes to diet and exercise. Since going through this program, Waddell said he no longer needs a transplant, and hopes to start working again.