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78-year old heart failure patient says “I do” and credits his improved quality of life to the heart failure program at the East Carolina Heart Institute

October 11, 2012 posted by Carissa D. Etters

GREENVILLE – Allen Stanford married the love of his life, Karen, on Sept. 9, 2012. Stanford is 78 years old and has been in and out of hospitals since the early 1990s with heart disease, including heart failure.
Heart failure is a chronic disease, also called congestive heart failure or CHF. It means the heart can’t supply enough blood and oxygen to meet the body’s needs.  While there is no cure for chronic heart failure, a patient’s heart can get stronger with the right treatment and follow-up.
According to the American Heart Association, about 5.7 million people suffer from heart failure.  Each year, 670,000 new cases are diagnosed, and more than 277,000 people will die from heart failure. However, with best practice care including healthy lifestyle changes, many heart failure patients can lead a full, enjoyable life.
“Heart failure is a continuing journey. Although you often walk the road alone, there are many places to stop along the way and get nourishment,” said Dr. John Cahill, center director for the heart failure program at the East Carolina Heart Institute at Vidant Medical Center, and assistant professor of cardiovascular sciences at East Carolina University. “In the heart recovery program, we offer a network of physical, social and psychological support, to empower our patients to turn despair into confidence, fear of the unknown into hope for the future, and failure into recovery.”
Stanford entered the heart failure program at The East Carolina Heart Institute in spring 2011 and says his quality of life has improved dramatically.  
“The people here in this clinic make a patient feel special,” said Stanford. “There are not many hospitals around that provide service like they do here, that go the extra mile. I can do more things than I used to be able to do, because of the care I continue to receive. You feel good when you leave your clinic visit to go home. The folks here are always available when I need them, and they have definitely helped keep me out of the hospital.”

"We often see our patients for the first time when they are hospitalized and feeling their worst,” said Tracy Vaughn, RN, heart recovery coordinator. “Watching our patients’ progress and their quality of life improve is very rewarding."
The Heart Failure Program at the East Carolina Heart Institute recently received the Get with the Guidelines – Heart Failure Gold Quality Achievement Award from the American Heart Association. The recognition means that The Heart Institute reached an aggressive goal of treating heart failure patients according to the care guidelines recommended by the American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology that are designed to improve patient care and outcomes.
“The East Carolina Heart Institute is dedicated to providing quality care to all patients and improving patient outcomes,” said Van Smith Jr., senior vice president of hospital operations. “The heart failure program is critical to the success of that goal. We are extremely honored to be recognized by an esteemed organization such as the American Heart Association.”
The East Carolina Heart Institute is the first in North Carolina devoted exclusively to education, research, treatment and prevention of cardiovascular diseases. The institute is associated with Vidant Medical Center and East Carolina University. The primary facilities that make up the Heart Institute are located on the campuses of Vidant Medical Center and ECU’s Brody School of Medicine. Private practice physicians in Greenville and throughout the region are an integral part of the Heart Institute.

About Get With The Guidelines
Get With The Guidelines® is the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s hospital-based quality improvement program that empowers health care teams to save lives and reduce health care costs by helping hospitals follow evidence-based guidelines and recommendations.  For more information, visit
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