"graphic of heart next to blood pressure monitor"Just over one year ago, Garnet Health’s award-winning Peter Frommer, M.D. Heart Center announced the opening of their new open-heart surgery program, in partnership with NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center. It’s the first program of its kind in Orange County, and the service has exceeded expectations. Garnet Health provides lifesaving complex cardiothoracic procedures locally, so Hudson Valley residents can receive expert heart-surgery care without the stress of traveling to New York City and being away from their loved ones.

As we look to a new year and approach American Heart Month in February, let’s take a moment to remember the American Heart Association’s Essential 8 ways we can take care of our heart and step into a healthier lifestyle in 2024:

  • Eat better. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends a healthy diet that includes whole foods, fruits, vegetables, lean protein, nuts and seeds, as well as cooking with nontropical oils like olive and canola.
  • Get active. Adults should get 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity, like walking, taking a bike ride, doing water aerobics or gardening, or 75 minutes a week of vigorous activity, like running, spinning or swimming laps. Or do a combination of both!
  • Quit smoking. The AHA offers many resources to help, starting with their Quitline: 1-800-QUIT-NOW.
  • Get healthy sleep. Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night. According to the AHA, adequate sleep promotes healing, improves brain function and reduces the risk for chronic diseases. Garnet Health offers sleep studies to help diagnose and treat a wide variety of sleep disorders. 
  • Manage your weight. Understanding your BMI, journaling your food intake and learning portion control are just a few tips. If you require more specialized help, the bariatric specialists at Garnet Health can discuss weight loss options with you.
  • Manage your blood sugar. Knowing and understanding your blood sugar levels is important to maintaining good health and preventing the risk of diabetes, which can lead to heart disease or stroke. Garnet Health’s free diabetes prevention program , for qualified participants, can help evaluate your risk. They also offer a diabetes treatment center for those who require diabetes care. 
  • Manage your blood pressure. Keeping your blood pressure at a normal range can keep you healthier longer! 
  • Control your cholesterol. High levels of “bad” cholesterol can lead to an increased risk of heart disease. 

Garnet Health offers the Know Your Numbers Program, a free mobile screening service that determines your risk of heart disease or stroke. If you’re interested in learning more, call 845-333-2632.

Unfortunately, heart disease is still a leading cause of death in both Orange and Sullivan counties. Knowing this, we should all understand how to identify a cardiac arrest and a heart attack, which—despite the terms being used interchangeably—are not the same thing.

Cardiac Arrest

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a cardiac arrest occurs when the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating. This malfunction causes the blood to stop flowing to the rest of the body. Signs of cardiac arrest include:

  • Collapsing suddenly and passing out
  • Not breathing; gasping for air
  • Not responding to shouting or shaking
  • Not having a pulse

Cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death, and fast action can save lives. Call 9-1-1 immediately and start CPR right away.

Heart Attack

A heart attack occurs when blood flow to the heart is blocked. The more time that passes without treatment, the more damage to the heart. The signs and symptoms of a heart attack can differ for men and women, but the CDC describes these as major symptoms:

  • Chest pain or discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center or left side of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes or that goes away and comes back. The discomfort can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain.
  • Feeling weak or lightheaded, or fainting. You may also break out into a cold sweat.
  • Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck or back.
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms or shoulders.
  • Shortness of breath. 

Tiredness, nausea, and vomiting can also occur, although these symptoms are more common in women.

In some cases, a heart attack can lead to a cardiac arrest. If you experience any of these symptoms yourself or notice them in a loved one, call 9-1-1 immediately.

Despite our best efforts, some things like our genetics, age and ethnicity increase the risk of heart disease. In an effort to further improve and expand our care for patients with advanced cardiovascular disease, Garnet Health recently cut the ribbon on a new hybrid surgical suite located at Garnet Health Medical Center in Middletown. They now have two state-of-the-art cardiac OR suites. Combined with the expert surgeons from Columbia University Irving Medical Center, Garnet Health now offers the most advanced technology and expertise to perform even more lifesaving open-heart surgeries as well as critical non-invasive cardiac procedures. 

Should you need to see a specialist about a heart condition, Garnet Health offers Sullivan County residents the very best in heart care. Throughout our health system, we have comprehensive heart care services—from diagnosis to treatment and rehabilitation—and we’re proud to be a cardiovascular health leader in the region.

For more information on Garnet Health’s cardiac services, visit or call (845) 333-8909 to make an appointment with a cardiologist. To schedule a visit with a primary care provider, call (845) 333-6500


Chris Thurtle, MA
By Chris Thurtle, MA

Chris Thurtle is Garnet Health’s Digital Marketing Manager in the Marketing and Corporate Communications department. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Combined Studies (Psychology/Information Systems) from Leicester University, U.K. and his Master's degree in Psychology from Marist College. Chris is passionate about building awareness and effectively communicating the services and support that Garnet Health can bring to the citizens of Sullivan and Orange Counties through digital and traditional marketing. He provides planning and leadership in digital marketing strategy, and digital communications. Chris can be reached at (845) 333-2363 or 

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