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At UF Health Central Florida, you have access to one of the most advanced heart and vascular programs in the state. From state-of-the-art heart catheterizations to minimally-invasive open heart surgery and everything in between, there’s no need to go anywhere else for advanced cardiovascular care.

Our cardiologists, interventional cardiologists and cardiovascular/thoracic surgical teams provide comprehensive care for a wide range of conditions.

Cardiac rehabilitation

To learn more about cardiac rehabilitation, call:

Cardiac rehabilitation completes the continuum of heart care, offering outpatient monitored exercise and educational programs designed to reduce risk factors for coronary artery disease.

Our programs are tailored to the personal interests, needs and abilities of each patient. Cardiac rehabilitation offers a safe and enjoyable way for people with heart disease or those who have had cardiac surgery to improve their cardiovascular fitness, function and knowledge.

Life with a New Beat

If you're adjusting to life after a heart attack or are living with certain other heart diseases, ask your doctor for a referral to attend cardiac rehabilitation.

Newly renovated Cardiac Rehabilitation space at UF Health Leesburg Hospital

Who can benefit from cardiac rehabilitation?

Today, cardiac rehab is an option for people of all ages and with many forms of heart disease. You may benefit from cardiac rehabilitation if your medical history includes:

  • Heart attack
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Heart failure
  • Angina
  • Angioplasty or stent placement
  • Certain congenital heart diseases
  • Coronary artery bypass surgery
  • Valve replacements

Cardiac rehabilitation isn’t appropriate for everyone, though even if you have one of these conditions. Your health care team will work with your physician to thoroughly evaluate your health to make sure you’re ready to start a cardiac rehab program. You must have a referral from a doctor to attend cardiac rehabilitation.

Chest Pain Center

If you have a heart attack or cardiac arrest, you’ll want to be cared for by the most highly trained team. As an Accredited Chest Pain Center with Primary PCI & Resuscitation, our hospitals provide the most advanced and timely care to patients who’ve had heart emergencies.

What is a Chest Pain Center with Primary PCI and Resuscitation?

Accredited Chest Pain Center with Primary PCI and Resuscitation is the American College of Cardiology (ACC)’s highest level of accreditation for chest pain centers.

The ACC awarded UF Health Leesburg Hospital and UF Health The Villages® Hospital with this designation after rigorous onsite evaluations of our teams’ abilities to evaluate, diagnose and treat patients experiencing a heart attack or cardiac arrest. The accreditation is also thanks to crucial collaboration between UF Health Central Florida and emergency medical services.

What is Primary PCI?

Our “Primary PCI” designation tells patients:

  • We use a specialized treatment called percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) as the primary treatment for severe heart attacks.
  • We have PCI available 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
  • No matter when your heart attack occurs, you’ll receive rapid treatment in one of our state-of-the-art Cardiac Catheterization Labs to minimize damage to your heart muscle.

What is Resuscitation?

Our “Resuscitation” designation means we use a therapy called therapeutic hypothermia (or cooling) for eligible patients who’ve had a cardiac arrest.

When you go into cardiac arrest, your heart stops, also stopping blood and oxygen from flowing to your brain. Without oxygen, your brain cells begin to die. Cooling buys your brain time. By temporarily lowering your body temperature after cardiac arrest, we can help reduce inflammation and decrease swelling in your brain, in turn reducing the risk of brain damage.

Why it matters

One in four heart attacks are severe enough to require PCI to open clogged arteries and restore blood flow to the heart. Meanwhile, more than 350,000 cardiac arrests happen outside of the hospital each year, 90 percent of which result in death.

Timing is everything when it comes to your heart. Knowing which hospital is best equipped to care for you if the unthinkable happens could quite possibly save your life.

Heart attack resources

With a heart attack, time is muscle. Knowing the signs and symptoms is essential to getting help quickly. Visit the pages below for tips on identifying heart attacks, your risk for developing heart disease, and tips for living a heart-healthier life.

  • Early Heart Attack Care®, or EHAC®, is an awareness campaign intended to educate the public about the signs of an impending heart attack and that these signs and symptoms can occur days or weeks before the actual event.

Heart Attack Signs and Symptoms

Did you know heart attacks have beginnings™?

Like other diseases, heart attacks have early sign and symptoms. These “beginnings” occur in over 50 percent of patients. However, if recognized in time, these “beginnings” can be treated before the heart is damaged. 85 percent of heart damage occurs within the first two hours of a heart attack. Early Heart Attack Care, or EHAC, is knowing the subtle danger signs of a heart attack and acting upon them immediately—BEFORE HEART DAMAGE OCCURS.

Learn the early signs and symptoms

  • Chest pressure, squeezing, aching or burning
  • Shortness of breath
  • Back pain
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Jaw pain
  • Pain that travels down one or both arms
  • Feeling of fullness

What is the difference (men vs. women)?

  • Heart attack symptoms can be different between men and women. Why does it matter? Women are less likely to seek immediate medical care and are more likely to die.
  • Men normally feel pain and numbness in the left arm or side of chest, but in women, these symptoms may appear on the right side
  • Women may feel completely exhausted, drained, dizzy or nauseous
  • Women may feel upper back pain that travels up into their jaw
  • Women may think their stomach pain is the flu, heartburn or an ulcer

What are the atypical presentations?

In an atypical presentation, the signs and symptoms are different. How? The patient may not complain about pain or pressure in the chest.

Be alert for the following:

  • A sharp or “knife-like” pain that occurs with coughing or breathing
  • Pain that spreads above the jawbone or into the lower body
  • Difficult or labored breathing

What are the risk factors?

  • These are the general risk factors. Discuss your risk for a heart attack with your doctor.
  • Chest pain, pressure, burning, aching or tightness – it may come and go
  • A family history of cardiovascular disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Overweight or obese
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Using tobacco products
  • Metabolic disease, diabetes or other illnesses
  • For women it can also include birth control pills, a history of pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes or having a low birth weight baby

How can you prevent a heart attack?

  • Understand the risk factors and see a doctor for early diagnosis.
  • Learn the signs and symptoms. There is a difference in the way heart attacks occur in men and women.
  • Be alert for a heart attack in yourself or someone in your vicinity. Becoming an active bystander could save a life!
  • When in doubt, call 9-1-1. First responders have the medical technology to quickly save a life.

* Information provided by the American College of Cardiology (ACC). Early Heart Attack Care™, and EHAC® are trademarks of the ACC.


Electrophysiology, or EP, is a cardiac specialty that deals with the management of the electrical activity of the heart and heart rhythms such as atrial fibrillation, PVCs, and SVT (heart beating too fast).

Our EP program at UF Health Central Florida is one of the busiest in the southeast, performing over one thousand procedures every year. Equipped with the latest state-of-the-art technology and specialized equipment, our electrophysiology experts offer a wide range of procedures that diagnose and treat heart problems. We are able to map the area of the heart that is causing the abnormal beats and use a process called ablation to treat the area and make it less prone to cause abnormal rhythms.

EP physicians also implant cardiac devices such as pacemakers, defibrillators and biventricular pacemakers.

Team Approach to Care

Each member of our care team specializes in treating atrial fibrillation and other cardiac arrhythmias. Our multidisciplinary approach to care combined with high-volume experience allows us to develop a safe and effective treatment plan and to monitor your progress and response to treatment.

Interventional cardiology

Our cardiologists and cardiac care professionals perform thousands of life-saving procedures each year through interventional and non-invasive techniques. We offer a full range of cardiac catheterization and interventional procedures, such as angioplasties, percutaneous coronary intervention and stents (including drug-eluting stents). Our team also implants devices and performs peripheral interventions.

Interventional procedures can be performed during a diagnostic cardiac catheterization (cath) if a blockage is identified or may be scheduled as a follow-up to a cardiac cath during which the interventional cardiologist diagnosed the presence of coronary artery disease.

Like diagnostic cardiac caths, interventional procedures are performed by threading a long, slender, flexible catheter through arteries in the groin, wrist or other location to the exact spot in the heart where the narrowing or blockage has occurred. Fluoroscopy is used by the interventional cardiologist performing the procedure to guide the catheter to the location of the blockage. Once the catheter is in place, interventional procedures such as balloon angioplasty, stent placement, rotablation or others can be performed.

Leaders in Heart Care

The positive results of our interventional cardiology program have led to improved heart health for thousands of patients throughout the region.

Interventional cardiology doctor

Interventional Cardiology Procedures

  • Balloon Angioplasty: Also known as percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) or percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA), balloon angioplasties are minimally-invasive procedures performed by inserting a small balloon at the tip of a flexible catheter close to the narrowed area of the coronary artery. The balloon is then inflated, compressing the blockage (usually fatty plaque) against the artery wall, thereby increasing the diameter of the artery and improving blood flow. At times, re-closure can occur. To offset this possibility, a stent may be inserted also using a catheter.
  • Balloon Angioplasty with Stenting: In many cases, balloon angioplasties will be accompanied by a stenting procedure which will help to keep the artery open. A stent is a tiny, coiled wire or mesh tube which holds the walls of the artery in place, improving blood flow. Stents can also be inserted during a heart attack to quickly open blockages and reduce damage to the heart muscle.
  • Drug-Eluting Stents: May be used to reduce the risk that the artery will restenose (or close). These stents have a thin coating of a medication which reduces the risk of restenosis.
  • Atherectomy: The removal of plaque and calcium deposits that line the walls of the artery and cause blockages. Atherectomy makes stent placement easier and more effective. There are special devices with diamond-coated tips which rotate either 360 degrees or forward facing within the vessel to break through stubborn calcium. We can also use laser technology to vaporize the plaque and allow for stenting and return of maximum blood flow within the artery.
  • Intravascular Lithotripsy: Our heart & vascular team utilizes the Shockwave Intravascular Lithotripsy (IVL) System to crack both medial and intimal calcium while minimizing trauma to the vessel wall for the treatment of severely calcified coronary artery disease. The catheter is a tube-like device called a balloon catheter that contains integrated lithotripsy emitters, which can break up hard materials (calcification) that restrict blood flow to the heart. This helps open the blood vessels when the balloon is inflated (angioplasty).
  • Protected PCI: Protected stenting is a widely accepted procedure using Impella®, the world’s smallest heart pump, to temporarily assist the pumping function of the heart. Impella may enable placement of a stent for patients who are at high risk for complications or have severe heart disease.
  • Carotid Stenting: A minimally invasive treatment for carotid artery disease in which a vascular surgeon inserts a slender, metal-mesh tube, called a stent, which expands inside your carotid artery to increase blood flow in areas blocked by plaque. The carotid arteries supply blood to the brain; therefore carotid stenting minimizes stroke risk.
  • PFO Closure: Patent foramen ovale (PFO) is a common abnormality that affects 20 to 30% of the adult population. It is a hole that exists between the two upper chambers of the heart. Normally the foramen ovale closes at birth but sometimes it does not. Having a PFO is most often associated with strokes but it can contribute to other conditions as well. Closure can easily be accomplished through a small catheter placed through a large vein in the leg that leads to the heart and a closure device is deployed to seal the hole.

Lifesaving Care

Every year, thousands of people from The Villages and the surrounding region are brought to the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory at UF Health The Villages® Hospital for lifesaving, minimally invasive cardiac stenting and diagnosis.

Bill Blair was one of those people. While participating in the 64-mile route of the Hearts for Our Hospital Bicycle Challenge, he unexpectedly collapsed on the side of the road. Brian Saluck, a cardiologist, happened to be driving by and stopped to help. Dr. Saluck initiated CPR, and within minutes, emergency responders were at the scene. Bill was taken by ambulance to the emergency department, and Dr. Saluck rushed to the Cardiac Cath Lab to perform the lifesaving procedure.

“It has always been a passion of mine to stay fit and in shape, so this was a huge surprise to me,” Bill said. “The stars aligned for me — I was in exactly the right place when this happened to me. To have Dr. Saluck there saved my life!”

Person riding bicycle

Bill is quick to note that until that fateful day when he needed it, he didn’t know about the high-quality care offered at UF Health The Villages® Hospital and how vital it is. It is important to him that everyone understands the critical role a cath lab plays in saving the lives of people in our communities every day.

UF Health The Villages® Hospital Auxiliary Foundation is raising funds for a $1.4 million heart & vascular center on the hospital’s second floor so that experts can continue to provide world-class cardiac care in a modern, state-of-the-art setting. Watch Bill’s story and be sure to visit our Foundation page to learn more!