Advanced heart and vascular care, right here

February 1st, 2021

At Memorial Hermann Southeast Hospital, Bay Area residents have access to comprehensive, advanced heart and vascular care, right in their own community.

Cardiothoracic and vascular surgeon Cesar Nahas, MD, associate professor at McGovern Medical School at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), who serves as medical director of the cardiac surgery program at Memorial Hermann Southeast, says what sets Memorial Hermann Southeast apart is the hospital’s ability to deliver medical center expertise and personalized care, right in the community. “We’re small enough to be attentive to each patient, while keeping the quality of care high,” he says.

The affiliated heart and vascular specialists at Memorial Hermann Southeast, supported by a team of dedicated operating room nurses, ICU nurses, technicians, operating room technicians, perfusionists, nurse practitioners, office managers and office staff, provide a full spectrum of heart care—from prevention to treatment to recovery—all delivered in a convenient, personalized setting.

Prevention and Diagnosis

Specialty trained physicians affiliated with Memorial Hermann Southeast assess a patient’s risk for heart and vascular disease and then prescribe lifestyle modifications and/or medication, perform noninvasive and invasive diagnostic tests, and coordinate with other specialists for wellness, nutrition and weight management.

Accredited Chest Pain Center

Successful treatment of a heart attack requires immediate medical attention. Memorial Hermann Southeast is an accredited Chest Pain Center and a Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI) hospital through The Joint Commission.  The hospital operates ST-elevated myocardial infarction (STEMI) cardiac catheterization labs 24/7, ensuring patients receive fast intervention to clear blockages and relieve heart attack symptoms.

Minimally Invasive Heart Procedures

The affiliated cardiac surgeons at Memorial Hermann Southeast perform both traditional open and minimally invasive heart procedures, the latter of which may result in smaller incisions, shorter hospital stays, less pain and quicker return to normal activities.

Memorial Hermann Southeast is one of five Memorial Hermann facilities offering transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), an innovative minimally invasive treatment for patients with severe aortic valve disease.

Affiliated cardiovascular disease specialist Abhijeet Dhoble, MD, associate professor at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth, says, “Through Memorial Hermann’s academic partnership with UTHealth, our patients also have access to all the major mitral, tricuspid and aortic valve replacement clinical trials.”

Vascular and Endovascular Treatments

Affiliated vascular and endovascular surgeons at Memorial Hermann Southeast perform vascular and less invasive, endovascular, procedures to correct blood vessels outside of the heart and brain that may be narrowed, blocked or dilated. Examples include aortic aneurysm repair, balloon angioplasty, bypass surgery, carotid endarterectomy, carotid stenting and fistula creation and repair.

As affiliated vascular surgeon Sophia Khan-Makoid, MD, assistant professor at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth, explains, “Heart surgeons and neurosurgeons focus on the heart and brain, respectively. Vascular surgeons take care of all the blood vessels coming from the heart, going to the brain, arms, gut and all the way down to the legs.”

Heart Rhythm Treatments

Heart arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat, can affect the heart’s ability to pump blood properly and can lead to serious health issues. The team of skilled electrophysiologists affiliated with Memorial Hermann Southeast diagnoses and treats all types of heart arrythmias, including atrial fibrillation (AFib). Depending on the diagnosis, a patient’s treatment plan might include medication and/or cardioversion, pacemaker/ICD implantation or heart ablation.

The Latest Technologies

Memorial Hermann Southeast boasts the latest technologies, including robotic surgical systems, state-of-the-art catheter labs, two hybrid operating-endovascular suites, a cardiovascular intensive care unit (CV-ICU) and a dedicated cardiac rehabilitation facility. “The quality of care in this hospital is unbelievable,” says affiliated structural/interventional cardiologist Nadish Garg, MD. “The nursing support is amazing, and the facilities are state-of-the-art.”

Cardiac Rehabilitation

Memorial Hermann Southeast offers a medically supervised 12-week cardiac rehabilitation program designed to reduce a patient’s risk of re-hospitalization, lessen the need for cardiac medications and encourage a return to work following a heart-related illness. Each program is tailored to the patient’s specific needs and includes exercise, nutrition counseling, stress management and other services.

Keeping Patients Safe

To keep patients safe, Memorial Hermann introduced Safe Wait™, a new safety protocol that enforces social distancing in patient waiting areas, includes screening of patients and employees, staggering scheduled appointments and, when necessary, asking patients to wait in their vehicles for their appointments. With Safe Wait and the other safety measures in place, patients can get the care they need with peace of mind.

An Ongoing Commitment

Memorial Hermann Southeast Hospital Senior Vice President and Chief Executive Officer Noel J. Cárdenas says the hospital will continue to offer new and innovative heart and vascular services and treatments. “Heart disease is a leading cause of death among U.S. adults. Memorial Hermann is at the forefront of advancing heart health in Houston. We are committed to helping Bay Area residents prevent or manage cardiovascular illness through advanced, personalized care.”

For more information or to schedule an appointment, visit or call 713.222.2273.

An Unlikely Father-Son Adventure

July 1st, 2015

6-1 Jerry Brawner

Jerry Brawner and his son, Jess.

A heart attack was the last thing on their list of family fun

Jerry Brawner woke up at 3 a.m. on a Monday with what felt like severe indigestion. By the time 4 o’clock rolled around, it had only gotten worse, and he knew something was wrong. A single father, he woke his 9-year-old son, Jesse, and told him to pack a backpack while he called an ambulance “Come on, buddy, we’re going on an adventure,” he said.

Once the paramedics arrived, Jerry explained, “They hooked me up and said, ‘yeah, you’re having a heart attack.’” At 45, Jerry didn’t expect anything like this on what should have been just another normal Monday morning. “What’s scary,” he continued, “is that as soon as they tell you that, you know, your life flashes in front of your eyes and your adrenaline starts pumping.  I’ve got a 9-year-old …There’s nobody else who lives down here with me. I’ve got nobody for him.”

Jesse rode along in the front seat of the ambulance as his father was attended to in the back.  When they arrived at Houston Methodist St. John Hospital, Jesse waited with the ER staff as the doctors saved his dad’s life.

Jerry had suffered a STEMI, or ST segment elevation myocardial infarction. This potentially lethal type of heart attack occurs when a blood clot cuts all or part of the heart off from its blood supply. The lack of oxygen in the heart can cause muscle injury or death. STEMIs strike a quarter-million people every year.

STEMIs typically present initially as heartburn, and the pain may radiate outward from there.  Other symptoms include shortness of breath, lightheadedness, nausea, weakness and palpitations.

Dr. Palur Balakrishnan, who treated Jerry, said, “Myocardial infarctions can result as complications from other infirmities, including diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.  Smoking, lack of exercise and even stress can also precipitate a STEMI.”

He continued, “Due to the nature of these causes, many STEMIs can be prevented with a healthy diet and exercise.”

Jerry has been making an effort to adopt a healthier lifestyle and has been back to Houston Methodist St. John as he gets healthier. Jesse said, “I feel like my dad is a new person now. He eats a lot healthier, and he doesn’t eat as much, and he’s losing weight.”

With the help of the team at Houston Methodist, Jerry is on the road to recovery and a healthier lifestyle.

Bay Area Houston Magazine