Hospital doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to cardiac care

80 percent of premature heart disease and strokes are preventable.

Damian Ruiz, an echocardiographer in the radiology department at MVH, is looking at a heart scan using Computed Tomography Angiography (CTA), which uses a CT scanner to detect the presence of coronary heart disease. —Courtesy M.V. Hospital

February is Heart Month. No, not because Valentine’s Day falls midway through the month, but to raise awareness about heart health.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women. An average of 659,000 people die in the U.S. each year from the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In addition, women are experiencing unacceptable and avoidable heart-related illness and death, and nearly half of U.S. women do not recognize that heart disease is the leading cause of death for women, according to the Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention. Heart-health disparities specific to women widen and deepen when combined with race, ethnicity, and other social factors.

As the need for quality cardiac care grows, along with the population of the Island, the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital Cardiology Department has expanded its services over the years, with the number of cardiology visits to the hospital increasing from 209 service line visits in FY20, to more than 2,200 in FY22.

Offerings include EKGs, Holter Monitors-Mobile Cardiac Telemetry, cardiac rehabilitation, stress testing (including nuclear), echocardiograms, pulmonary function tests, vascular consults and testing, implanted cardiac monitoring devices, and more.

Dr. Aliya Browne, Medical Director of Cardiology at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, has been a provider at the hospital since 2020 and has been in practice for more than 20 years. Dr. Browne has expertise in treating heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathy, among other conditions.

In addition to the many cardiology services offered, last year at this time, the radiology department at the hospital launched a new screening process for cardiology patients. Known as Computed Tomography Angiography (CTA), the exam uses a CT scanner to detect the presence of coronary heart disease.

“The importance of the CTA is that we can actually see the arteries,” said Dr. Browne. “The patients who have mild abnormalities on stress tests and some symptoms of concern, we’ve been sending them off-Island to get a simple CAT scan that we can now do here.”

In partnership with Massachusetts General Hospital, the CTA is a less invasive way to detect potentially blocked arteries and other heart issues without the patient undergoing cardiac catheterization, which is similar to a surgical procedure and requires anesthesia, adding risk for the patient.

The CTA exams are part of the hospital’s ongoing efforts to provide higher level tests for preventative care, Dr. Browne said, adding, “We’ve come a really long way in being able to support our patients.”

The cardiology team at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital includes two advanced practice providers and several specialty cardiology physicians from Massachusetts General Hospital, as well as expanded services to include advanced vascular studies, pacemaker implants, and heart failure clinics.

Heart Month is a reminder that heart disease is avoidable, even if you have a family history. Eighty percent of premature heart disease and strokes are preventable, according to Dr. Browne.

Lifestyle changes can have a large impact in preventing cardiovascular disease, or in keeping it from worsening. Experts recommend that you control high blood pressure, reduce cholesterol by avoiding foods high in cholesterol, exercise regularly, get enough sleep, and quit smoking.

For more information on cardiology services at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, visit

Health Beat is sponsored by Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. It informs and advises on health issues, shares health tips, and helps the community to become better acquainted with Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, the physicians, and staff. For more information, visit