The Heart, Artery & Vein Institute (HAV) celebrated its second anniversary, in Payson/Rim Country, a few months ago. A fun and well-attended Chamber Open House, was celebrated in late February, marking the anniversary and the new location of HAV at 127 E. Main St., Suite A, Payson, 928-238-1388.

Dr. Mir Ali, supported by office manager Kellie Quam, continues to educate his patients, speak at Banner High Country Seniors’ Doc Talks and with civic groups, meet residents at the Community Health & Care Fair. He also has a live show on KMOG’s Rim Country Forum the first Wednesday of each month from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. All are opportunities the doctor considers to educate our community.

“The best outcomes are attained by understanding the goals of my patients,” Dr. Ali states and strongly believes.

He is the local cardiologist you see at every visit. Patients can schedule tests and treatments for the heart, arteries and veins — right here in Payson.

Most importantly, Dr. Ali and Heart, Artery & Vein Institute is the exclusive cardiologist/location that offers a therapy referred to as EECP (Enhanced External Counter Pulsation) in Payson.

EECP therapy currently has a dedicated treatment room at the HAV office. An increased interest among qualified patients choosing this treatment over invasive procedures prompted an expansion. By June 15, 2019, there will be two additional rooms added, and dedicated, to EECP therapy to meet the demand.

Could EECP be right for you? Let’s first start off with an overview of EECP.

The therapy is given five days a week, one hour each day for a total of 35 sessions. Benefits can last from one to five years. The mechanical process of EECP augments the body’s natural circulatory process.

Pressure is created by inflating a series of cuffs (similar to blood-pressure cuffs) that squeeze the extremities — calf, thighs, buttocks — and direct blood back to the heart with each heart cycle.

This process ultimately restores sufficient blood flow to parts of the heart lacking in oxygen.

What to expect

At each session the patient will lie on a cushioned therapy bed and a therapist will place large pressure cuffs around the ankles, legs and buttocks.

These cuffs are timed to inflate and deflate between heartbeats. An EKG runs for the duration of treatment and is used to set the timing of the cuffs so they work simultaneously with the heartbeat.

The patient will wear a sensor on their finger to measure the oxygen level in their blood and monitor the pressure created by the cuff pulsation.

In the first week, the patient will build a tolerance to an increasing level of pressure needed to augment blood flow during the resting phase of the heart cycle.

In the second week, the treatment pressure will be increased to higher levels for additional augmentation.

In the third week, the patient will likely begin to experience a much higher level of energy, alertness, stamina and increased mobility as the hemodynamics are changing within the vascular system. This indicates their organs, including the heart, are receiving a much higher supply of oxygenated blood flow.

Benefits of the therapy generally include

• Decreased angina symptoms to no angina at all

• Having more energy

• A more positive outlook

• Taking part in more activities of daily living

• Enhanced quality of life

Initially the pressure created by the cuffs may be uncomfortable, but once a patient is accustomed to sensation they are relaxed enough to read, listen to music or even nap.

At first a patient may feel tired after a treatment — it is sometimes called “passive exercise.” After a few sessions a patient will begin to have more energy as their muscles become more familiar with the process.

Candidates likely to get the most benefit from the treatment, according to Dr. Ali, have a diagnosis of a defined heart condition, are short on energy and endurance and experience intolerance to physical activity with shortness of breath or chest pain.

HAV’s May 2019 Your Health section focuses on Word of Mouth Says It All About EECP with journeys from four patients. Each of the testimonials published in the Roundup or on Facebook have the patients’ permission to share their very personal journeys and success stories to inspire readers.

Thomas T.

Meet Thomas T. — he is 73 years young and, now, a Payson resident for seven years. As a teenager diagnosed with diabetes, Thomas is familiar with accepting and managing health challenges successfully. He is a retired draftsman and head designer for a national engineering and construction firm.

He knows, firsthand, that diabetes puts the heart at risk with regard to the function of heart valves, potential for a heart attack and/or stroke making the chances of needing stents highly likely.

Thomas recalls that he and his wife were listening to the radio, while driving in the car, one morning and heard Dr. Ali on the air. He was compelled to listen to Dr. Ali’s broadcast about his approach to heart care as information on treatments and EECP therapy were discussed. This prompted Thomas to call and make an appointment.

Thomas would tell you that he’s had the gamut of tests, treatments and surgeries to correct the episodes he’s faced.

He, like many Payson residents, has physicians in both Payson and the Valley. But not a one had heard of EECP.

After having the tests at HAV, Dr. Ali reviewed and explained the results of Thomas’ tests that showed an 80 percent blockage in a delicate area where the heart arteries split like a “Y” intersection. Pros and cons of bypass surgery were discussed along with the option of having the EECP therapy before considering the bypass surgery — he was a candidate.

He decided to avert the surgery and began EECP. Thomas describes the EECP process in detail, with great emphasis on “self-initiative” and “take the necessary steps.”

Much credit is given to his wife as he compliments her as being a good researcher. They both were concerned about EECP in the beginning, but after he completed the process are very pleased with the results because they feel the process is excellent.

“The compressions were in sync with my heart pushing blood through the arteries, bypassing the blockage,” he said.

“I thought about committing to 35 hours and dedicating one hour per day for four to five weeks. To me that won over a bypass surgery and all that came with that pre and post time and recovery for such an involved procedure.”

He shared that it really wasn’t until days 14-16 (of EECP) that he felt a change and was doing more for longer periods of time. “I was really encouraged.” Milestones were noticed at day 20, and again at day 30, he shared, “Energy-wise the level was really felt.”

Thomas still works one day a week for a plumber on new construction sites. It’s a physical job. He didn’t have the energy before the EECP. “I’m back to work, for that one day again, and now able to crawl under houses, and carry tools, and pipes.”

In addition to working part-time, Thomas has also created a home gym. Jumping rope was an exercise that was exhausting before EECP, he was only able to do 10 to 30 jumps. Now, he’s up to 250-plus jumps in a five-minute period.

“I’m staying active and working out two to three days a week. My goal is to get to four to five days a week.”

What would Thomas tell someone contemplating EECP? “I am very pleased with the process and outcome. And, the staff, including Kellie and Savannah, is great.

“You owe it to yourself to talk about options (with Dr. Ali),” he said

Mari and Jim

Meet Mari J. — She just celebrated a milestone birthday. If we were talking precious stones, Mari’s a beautiful diamond.

We met and talked immediately after she completed her 10th EECP therapy treatment.

Mari shares how her family nurse practitioner made the referral to Heart, Artery & Vein Institute.

“She knew about my past vein issues and treatments (before moving to Payson) and suggested I go to Dr. Ali.”

2017 was a pivotal year. Mari used a cane on and off for a year-and-a-half that turned into having to use it always for a six-month period.

“I had feelings of hesitancy seeking more treatment, not knowing what to expect. I was really sensitive to pain from a prior treatment.”

But, she also wanted to be herself again and not a burden to anyone.

Mari also experienced several heart episodes for which she was treated (prior to meeting Dr. Ali).

Once her vein issues were treated successfully, it was time to talk about options for her heart and getting her energy back.

Mari and her husband Jim were both reluctant just based on previous “not so good” experiences with other physicians.

They both agree that Dr. Ali takes his time and is friendly and competent — and, earned their trust.

2019 was when she began to consider EECP. This past April was the start of her EECP therapy.

“The hour goes by fast. I’m using this time to play my own “memory games” that include thinking about names of presidents, state capitals and other trivia.” She also makes solving a crossword puzzle a part of her daily life.

When asked what can she do now that she couldn’t do before EECP? Mari lit right up and said, “I’m dancing again!”

So, that begged the question, “Where do you go dancing?”

Mari said, “I dance around my home to AC/DC’s song ‘Dirty Deeds.’”

We all had a good chuckle.

She also can do the Charleston again — of course changing out the music. She loves to feel her feet on the floor.

There’s less dizziness when she’s grocery shopping now, too.

Mari recalls the day she arrived at HAV for her stress test in December.

“There were about 16 people scheduled for testing that day. Everyone was great. We all began talking and had a great time.” She could tell that the patients love Dr. Ali and knows that he loves his patients. “Plus, the team here is so nice.”

Remarks about getting your veins treated and EECP? “Don’t hesitate. Get ’em done. Be amazed.”

What’s Mari’s next goal? “I’d like to be able to join Jim for walks around the Payson parks.”

Ed with Abby

In HAV’s November Your Health section, patient Ed E. was looking forward to starting EECP in 2019. Ed also said he’d be willing to do a follow up interview to share his EECP therapy experience.

When Ed was asked, “How do you feel after completing EECP?”

Ed enthusiastically said, “It does good for your whole body. I had nothing to lose.”

Ed thought more about the timeline and here’s how he recalls the process:

Week One: Relaxing, pleasant experience, time to meditate, “I solved a lot of problems.”

Week Two: Notices differences. “Three o’clock in the afternoon was when I started to get tired. At 4:30 p.m. there was just purely more energy. I wasn’t sure if it was psychological or real, it was hard to gauge.”

Week Three: Each week got better. “This is when I knew it was real. Like 10 years were taken off my age. I could feel it.”

At the end of EECP: “I am now motivated to continue by doing more exercising and have a positive outlook.”

As a small-business owner, Ed always felt he was active at work. But, by having this peaceful experience, giving him time to think and get back energy, he’s doing more than he ever expected. In addition to work, Ed now builds time into his schedule to take his dogs Sammy and Abby to the Rumsey dog park. He sends a shout out to his friends and wants them to know how much he likes his new routine.

“Make the commitment to do this for one hour each day (over the required 35 days). Take advantage of EECP therapy. After all, Medicare covers this.”

Ed credits Dr. Ali and his well-educated team for bringing this “gift” to Payson.

James D.

Meet James D. who is 85 years young. He wanted to stay close to home for his care. James credits his wife Brenda with “taking care of all the VA stuff.” James served in the Vietnam War — U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

He felt as though his heart was going bad and didn’t have the same energy.

Dr. Ali recalls, “James was referred to me by his primary physician Dr. Lowe for complete cardiac evaluation. James’ strength was progressively declining and he couldn’t walk much without experiencing shortness of breath. His heart was noted to be weak and not contracting vigorously. Additional testing revealed some areas of his heart were not receiving their fair share of blood sup ply, explaining his lack of energy.”

James chose not to pursue risky invasive hospital procedures to restore circulation. The option of completely non-invasive treatment done closer to home with Enhanced External Counter Pulsation (EECP) was discussed. He accepted it without batting an eye.

EECP was the non-surgical, non-interventional plan “B” to, in this case, boost up circulation to the heart muscle. Following treatments, he like many, reported ease with activities of daily living, less shortness of breath and newfound energy.

“My wife called the VA and found Dr. Ali. I really like Dr. Ali. He’s interesting and gets right to it. It’s nice to be able to count on him.”

James’ wife Brenda concurs, “Dr. Ali is really easy to talk with.”

James recalls, “after three days of EECP, I felt more energy.” He committed to all 35 sessions. James feels strongly and stated that he tells his friends, “you have to take care of you.”

When asked to share what he’d tell others in need of health care, he said, “Get off your hind end! Never give up!”

Contact the reporter 

tmcquerrey@payson.com

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