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History of the Heart Institute

1981 photo


First bypass surgery performed

Dr. Roland Guest joined the medical staff in 1980 as NMMC’s first cardiologist. The first year he performed 430 patient cases. Around that same time, surgeon Dr. Max Hutchinson returned to Tupelo after additional training in cardiothoracic surgery at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta. In January 1981, Dr. Hutchinson performed NMMC’s first heart bypass surgery and the following month, the hospital’s first heart valve replacement surgery. Prior to his additional studies, Dr. Hutchinson had practiced as a general surgeon in Tupelo.




1986 photo


1,000th open heart surgery at NMMC

Dr. Max Hutchinson and Dr. Roland Guest performed their 1,000th open heart surgery in March 1986, five years after the first case. NMMC’s heart program was quickly becoming the leader in the region. During the next decade, the NMMC Heart Institute continued to grow. In 1996, the new East Tower was built and all heart services were consolidated into what is now called the Heart Institute.





1997 photo


NMMC starts electrophysiology program

Karl Crossen, M.D., became the region’s first cardiologist with special training in electrophysiology, the diagnosis and treatment of heart rhythm disorders. Arrhythmias, or irregularity in the heart’s electrical circuit, are very common and can show up as heart rates that are too slow or too fast. While most arrhythmias are harmless, some can be serious and even cause sudden cardiac death.





1999 photo


NMMC among first in state to perform transmyocardial revascularization

Transmyocardial revascularization became a new laser surgery option for people disabled by the crushing chest pain of angina who got no relief from other treatments. The treatment involves drilling a series of tiny holes into the heart with a laser to relieve angina pain. The procedure not only increases blood flow to the heart muscle by stimulating growth of new blood vessels within the heart, but also numbs nerves in the damaged areas of the heart.






NMMC pioneers off-pump bypass surgery

NMMC pioneered “off-pump” or “beating heart” bypass surgery. This technique allows surgeons to perform the surgery without stopping the heart and temporarily replacing its functions with the heart-lung machine. As a result, patients often experience less blood loss, shorter hospital stays and faster recovery.











2001 photo


NMMC pioneers 3-D cardiac mapping

NMMC’s electrophysiologists use a new computer-generated, 3-D “virtual heart” to find the spot where odd heartbeats originate. The cardiac catheter system allows physicians to more quickly and accurately map electrical current in patients with irregular heart rhythms, known as arrhythmias. The physician can view the heart in three dimensions and from various angles. Physicians get a clear picture of the heart chamber’s electrical activity in only a few beats, which will help identify the exact location of a patient’s arrhythmia.




2002 photo


Heart Institute named among nation’s top 100 programs

NMMC was recognized as one of the top 100 cardiovascular hospitals in the nation. The ranking, released by Solucient, a health care consulting company that has conducted these evaluations since 1993, examined hospitals that perform a large number of cardiovascular procedures.






2003 photo


NMMC offers biventricular assist device and drug eluting stents

NMMC was one of only two hospitals in Mississippi to offer the biventricular assist device, technology that simulates the heart’s own pumping capability. Cardiothoracic surgeons can surgically implant this mechanical pump-type device in patients whose heart continues to fail. This “bridge to transplant” can sustain a patient’s weakened heart while waiting for a transplant. Drug coated stents were also introduced in 2003 to complement the interventional cardiology program. Drug coated stents reduce the incidence of reblockage by more than 90 percent compared with a traditional bare metal stent.




2006 photo


NMMC adds 4-D echocardiography

NMMC’s echocardiography laboratory uses a cardiac ultrasound system providing real-time, four-dimensional images of the heart. This innovation allows cardiologists and surgeons to view the heart as if they were holding it in their hands and helps physicians better diagnose cardiac problems.






2008 AF photo


Atrial Fibrillation Center opens

NMMC’s Atrial Fibrillation Center offers patients the latest, most up-to-date treatment options for atrial fibrillation. Through a unique collaboration between electrophysiologists and cardiac surgeons, patients are evaluated for the most appropriate treatment. NMMC leads the region in treatment of atrial fibrillation with advanced mapping systems to detect complex abnormal heart rhythms and state-of-the-art ablation techniques to correct them.





2008 peripheral photo


Peripheral Vascular Program begins

NMMC cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons, in collaboration with general and vascular surgeons and radiologists, provide the latest treatment options for patients with peripheral artery disease. Our approach brings together health care professionals from several related specialties to coordinate patients’ care. This program integrates the diagnosis, treatment, follow-up and management of patients with vascular disease; in turn, the program provides these patients the opportunity to receive the most comprehensive and efficient care.




2010 photo


NMMC introduces Impella technology

The Impella is a powerful pump that replicates the heart’s natural function, continuously uploading the left ventricle and propelling blood into the ascending aorta during risky catheterization procedures. This temporary heart assist device replaces balloon pumps and improves blood perfusion to the heart and other organs.






2011 D2B photo


NMMC Door-to-Balloon Time 90 minutes or less

NMMC has worked diligently to reduce door-to-balloon time, the time between a patient’s arrival at the hospital and reperfusion (restored blood flow). By changing the hospital’s protocols, NMMC now consistently meets the American College of Cardiology’s recommendation of 90 minutes or less for patients experiencing ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), or heart attack caused by a completely blocked artery. The faster blood flow is restored, the better patients fare.





2011 hybrid OR photo


NMMC opens hybrid OR & adds valvuloplasty

A cross between a cardiac catheterization laboratory and a surgical suite, the hybrid OR enables physicians to make a diagnosis and then quickly proceed with treatment, without moving the patient or scheduling separate times for procedures. Because it combines the capabilities of surgery with the most advanced imaging available, the hybrid OR paves the way for more minimally-invasive procedures. Balloon valvuloplasty is used to open a narrowed heart valve, sometimes referred to as stenosis. The cardiologist threads a catheter with a balloon through the femoral artery and into the heart. Once in the aortic valve, the balloon is inflated, which forces the valve open so blood can flow freely again. By improving valve function and blood flow, the patient may avoid or delay open heart surgery and valve replacement.


2012 TAVR photo


NMMC pioneers transcatheter aortic valve replacement

NMMC was one of the first hospitals in the nation to offer transcatheter aortic valve replacement, a minimally invasive procedure whereby the aortic valve is replaced through a needle-puncture of the skin rather than through an “open” approach using a scalpel. A cardiologist and cardiothoracic surgeon perform the procedure together in the hybrid operating room. First, the cardiologist gains catheter access to the heart, then the cardiothoracic surgeon replaces the heart valve through the catheter. TAVR is an excellent option for high-risk patients – those who are older or have other serious health issues.




2012 bioresorbable stent photo


NMMC implants first Bioresorbable Vascular Scaffold

NMMC cardiologists implanted Absorb, the nation’s first drug eluting bioresorbable vascular scaffold as part of a research study. Absorb restores blood flow to the heart similar to a metal stent, supports the vessel until the artery can stay open on its own, then dissolves naturally. The result is a treated vessel that may resume more natural function and movement because it is free of a permanent metal stent.





2012 septal ablation photo


Local physician develops radiofreqency septal ablation

Cardiac electrophysiologist Karl Crossen, M.D., developed a new procedure known as radiofrequency septal ablation to treat hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy, a genetic disease where the heart’s septum is enlarged or thickened. This condition can cause shortness of breath, chest pain, fainting, congestive heart failure and abnormal heart rhythms which are sometimes fatal. He uses an advanced cardiac mapping system to target the thickest part of the septum. Then he uses a catheter to deliver radiofrequency energy to ablate (or burn) the excess tissue and reduce the thickness.




2012 vagal nerve stimulator photo


NMMC implants first vagal nerve stimulator for heart failure

Doctors at NMMC implanted the state’s first vagal nerve stimulator as part of a clinical research study to treat heart failure through nerve stimulation in the neck. Like a traditional pacemaker, the CardioFit device is implanted under the skin of the chest and attached to the heart – but it is also connected to a nerve in the neck. The device sends electrical pulses to the nerve, which sends signals to the heart. The clinical trial will assess whether combining CardioFit and drug therapy is more effective than treating with drug therapy alone.




2012 triple chamber pacemaker photo


NMMC among first to implant triple-chamber pacemaker

NMMC is among the first hospitals nationwide to implant the new Evia HF-T triple-chamber cardiac resynchronization therapy pacemaker. The device puts out pulses to keep the heart beating regularly and on time, improving the health of patients with bradycardia and heart failure. Its wireless home monitoring technology uses a cellular network to pick up information from the patient’s implanted device and transmit it to cardiologists daily. The device also measures thoracic impedance or lung fluid levels and alerts the physician before full-fledged heart failure develops.




2013 20,000th heart patient photo


NMMC surpasses 20,000 open heart surgeries

Betty Graham of Hurricane became the 20,000th heart surgery patient at NMMC when cardiothoracic surgeon David Talton, M.D., performed bypass surgery on five coronary arteries and repaired her heart’s mitral valve. The hospital’s first heart bypass surgery was done in January 1981, followed that February by the hospital’s first heart valve replacement surgery. Today NMMC’s Heart Institute is backed by the expertise of four cardiothoracic surgeons, 18 cardiologists and a network of other providers and specialists.




2013 congenital heart surgery photo


NMMC partners with UMMC for congenital heart surgery

Two local men recently became the first patients to have major surgery for congenital heart defects at NMMC as a result of a cooperative effort with the Children’s Heart Center at University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson. Vishal Sachdev, M.D., cardiothoracic surgeon and chief of surgery at NMMC, operated with Jorge Salazar, M.D., chief of congenital heart surgery and co-director of the Children’s Heart Center at UMMC.





2013 stentys photo


NMMC implants nation’s first STENTYS stent

James Haney of Amory received the nation’s first self-expanding bare metal stent designed specifically for heart attack victims. Barry Bertolet, M.D., and Benjamin Blossom, M.D., implanted the STENTYS coronary stent, which adapts in size to accommodate blood vessel changes caused by a heart attack. A better fit reduces the risk for another blockage and subsequent heart attack.





2013 chest pain center photo


NMMC opens Chest Pain Center

NMMC’s new 24-hour Chest Pain Center is equipped with the latest diagnostic technology to help cardiologists determine if the patient has already suffered a heart attack, is in danger of a heart attack, or if the chest pain is not heart-related. If initial tests in the Emergency Department are normal, the patient may be moved to the Chest Pain Center for a rapid but thorough evaluation. If the issue is heart-related, the goal is to prevent a heart attack. If not, the patient can be referred elsewhere to find the reason for the pain.

Chest Pain Center patient Gail Grice of Baldwyn with daughters Eurieka Shumpert and Ophebia Pegues, who are both registered nurses at NMMC’s Heart Institute.


830 South Gloster Street

Tupelo, Mississippi 38801