Heart care in Fort Walton Beach

The cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons at Fort Walton Beach Medical Center provide high quality care to patients with cardiovascular disease. When advanced treatment is necessary, we use minimally invasive approaches whenever possible. Being the only hospital in the Tri-County area performing open heart surgery, we offer the latest technology and state-of-the-art cath labs to treat heart disease effectively and efficiently.

In addition to treating cardiac conditions, we educate patients on how to prevent and manage heart disease.

To learn more about our cardiac care services, please call our Consult-A-Nurse® team at (850) 864-0213.


Joint Commission website

Fort Walton Beach Medical Center is designated as an Advanced Primary Stroke Center by The Joint Commission, one of the leading healthcare accreditation organizations in the nation.

As the Tri-County area’s first Accredited Chest Pain Center, our team follows procedures developed by leading experts in cardiac care. By doing so, our goal is to provide the immediate treatment necessary to avoid as much heart damage as possible.

Cardiac catheterization

Our hospital is home to a cardiac catheterization (cath) lab where our heart specialists perform diagnostic and therapeutic procedures.

During a catheterization procedure, a catheter (small, thin tube) is threaded through the blood vessels to the heart. The catheter carries small devices to help repair heart abnormalities, such as a blocked blood vessel.

Typically, a small incision is made in the groin or the neck to insert the catheter into an artery or vein. A catheterization procedure is useful in determining:

  • If blood is flowing normally
  • If blood vessels in the heart have narrowed
  • If the heart is pumping normally
  • If the heart valves are functioning correctly
  • If there are any heart abnormalities present

Cardiac catheterization treatments

We perform many treatments in our cardiac cath lab, including:

  • Alcohol septal ablation for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
  • Balloon angioplasty with stenting
  • Endomyocardial biopsy
  • Mitral and aortic valvuloplasties
  • Percutaneous closure of atrial septal defects (ASDs) and patent foramen ovales (PFOs)
  • Percutaneous left ventricular assist device placement
  • Right heart catheterization

The cath lab is located on the first floor of the main hospital building. To contact the cath lab, please call (850) 863-7592.

Heart arrhythmia treatment

A heart arrhythmia is an abnormal heart rhythm. This can mean the heart beats too fast, too slow or irregularly.

At our hospital, we perform electrophysiology studies to identify heart arrhythmias. If a heart arrhythmia is present, we offer innovative treatments to restore a normal heart rhythm.

Electrophysiology studies

An electrophysiology (EP) study is a series of diagnostic tests to help doctors understand an abnormal heart rhythm. Our EP studies take place in the cardiac cath lab, and patients are under mild sedation.

During and EP study, a catheter is inserted into a blood vessel that leads to the heart. An additional electrode catheter allows electrical signals to be sent to the heart and recorded. Anywhere from three to five electrode catheters may be used in an EP study.

Heart doctors use EP studies to find out:

  • How well certain medications are working to treat an arrhythmia
  • If a patient is at risk for further heart problems, such as fainting or cardiac arrest
  • Where an arrhythmia is coming from
  • Which treatment may correct the arrhythmia (such as cardiac ablation, medication, a pacemaker, an implantable cardioverter defibrillator or surgery)

Atrial Fibrillation (Afib)

Atrial fibrillation (Afib is the most commonly diagnosed abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia) in the U.S.

Atrial fibrillation is an abnormal heart rhythm caused by erratic electrical signals in the heart. A normal heart rhythm creates regular electrical signals that travel through the heart. The signals are essential for the heart to beat in a steady, rhythmic way. This allows blood to be pumped to all parts of the body. Sometimes the electrical signals become irregular, and the heart beats abnormally.

If not properly treated, it can grow worse over time and possibly damage your heart. Atrial fibrillation can also lead to health problems:

  • 5x increase in stroke risk
  • 5x increase in heart failure development

Atrial fibrillation also leads to a higher risk of:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Decreased activity level
  • Decline in quality of life

It's best to have atrial fibrillation treated before it progresses and causes other health problems.

Even after people develop other heart problems, there is hope. When atrial fibrillation is successfully treated it can:

  • Reverse the stretching of the left atrium
  • Improve heart function overall
  • Improve your symptoms
  • Reduce the number of heart medications you need

Treatments for Atrial Fibrillation

Treatments vary, depending on the stage of atrial fibrillation. Because undertreated atrial fibrillation can progress to more advanced stages, it is very important to talk with your healthcare provider about proper treatment.

Lifestyle Changes

  • Make exercise and healthy food choices a part of your daily life.
  • If needed, get a sleep study to find out if you have sleep apnea and need CPAP therapy.


Medications can help a person in different ways:

  • Medications can treat blood pressure, diabetes, or an overactive thyroid.
  • Blood thinners can reduce the risk of stroke.
  • Rate control medications slow the heartbeat.
  • Rhythm control medications help control the heart rhythm.


Cardioversion is done at a hospital. This therapy delivers a controlled electric shock to the outside of the chest to restore a normal heart rhythm.

If your symptoms continue and are not controlled by medications, your doctor may consider ablation therapy.

Different Types of Ablation

Ablation creates lesions, or barriers, on the heart tissue in an effort to stop the erratic electrical signals that cause atrial fibrillation. There are 2 types of ablation:

  • Endocardial radiofrequency (RF) ablation: Treats the inside the heart—it is most often used to treat paroxysmal atrial fibrillation, an earlier stage of Afib.
  • Epicardial ablation: Treats the outside the heart

Hybrid AFib Therapy combines both types of ablation. It creates lesions inside (endocardial RF) and outside (epicardial) of the heart. Hybrid AFib Therapy is used to treat long-standing persistent atrial fibrillation.

The goal of an ablation is to stop the atrial fibrillation, or to make the episodes shorter and less frequent. Speak with your physician to determine the best treatment for your condition. For a physician referral please call (850) 864-0213.

Stroke prevention for patients with atrial fibrillation

Surgeons at our hospital were the first in the Tri-County area to implant the innovative left atrial appendage closure (LAAC) device. The LAAC device can be inserted through a single procedure. It reduces the risk of cerebrovascular accident (stroke) in patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation.

The LAAC device is cone-shaped with a mesh membrane. It is spring-loaded to expand to the size of a quarter, which fits into the opening of the left atrial appendage. The mesh feature acts as a filter that allows blood to pass through while stopping clots.

During the procedure, the device is inserted through the femoral vein and passed through the septal wall into the left atrium of the heart. This device is permanent once placed, and heart tissue will begin to grow over it.

Most patients are able to stop taking blood-thinning medication within 45 days after surgery.

Emergency stroke treatment

Fort Walton Beach Medical Center is certified as an Advanced Primary Stroke Center by The Joint Commission. This designation signifies our dedication to excellent stroke treatment and patient outcomes.

If you suspect someone is having a stroke, call 911 immediately. Fast emergency intervention for a stroke is essential to preventing disability and death.

Interventional vascular services

We provide comprehensive services for the diagnosis, management, treatment and prevention of vascular diseases and thrombotic disorders.

Through interventional radiology, we treat vascular disorders and diseases with minimally invasive procedures.

Cardiovascular surgery

Our hospital offers patients a variety of cardiovascular surgical options for the treatment of heart, vascular and lung conditions. We offer minimally invasive interventional cardiology procedures in addition to traditional open-heart surgery.

Our surgical services include:

Cardiac rehabilitation

At Fort Walton Beach Medical Center, we offer an outpatient exercise program designed to help patients improve their heart health.

The goal of our cardiac rehab program is to help patients regain strength and develop long-term healthy lifestyle habits. Many patients join our program after having a heart attack, cardiovascular surgery or heart disease diagnosis.

Cardiac rehabilitation involves medically supervised exercise. This allows patients to strengthen their muscles and improve their cardiac health in a safe, controlled environment. Monitored exercise helps our patients gain confidence and return to their daily activities.

To be eligible for our cardiac rehab program, patients need a doctor's order or a physician referral. Please speak with your healthcare provider to see if cardiac rehabilitation could be an option for you.

To learn more about our cardiac rehab program, please call (850) 315-7870.

Goals of cardiac rehabilitation

Cardiac rehabilitation is a process that includes multiple practices, including:

  • Education about lifestyle changes
  • Emotional support
  • Monitored exercise
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Stress management

Benefits of cardiac rehabilitation

Participants in our cardiac rehab program experience several benefits, including:

  • Gaining control of body weight
  • Lowering cholesterol
  • Preventing existing conditions from worsening
  • Reducing the risk for future heart problems
  • Strengthening the heart and lungs
  • Understanding prescribed medications
  • Understanding the signs and symptoms of heart disease

People who benefit from cardiac rehabilitation

If you've experienced any of the following conditions or procedures, you may benefit from cardiac rehabilitation:

  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Chest pain (angina)
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Coronary stenting/balloon angioplasty
  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure
  • Heart transplant
  • Heart valve replacement
  • Peripheral artery disease (PAD)

Accredited chest pain center

Being an accredited Chest Pain Center means Fort Walton Beach Medical Center (FWBMC) has achieved a higher level of expertise in dealing with patients who arrive with symptoms of a heart attack. FWBMC provides a more efficient and effective evaluation which leads to more appropriate and rapid treatment programs for patients with chest pain or other heart attack symptoms.

Accreditation means Fort Walton Beach Medical Center has put processes in place that meet certain criteria to reduce the time between symptoms to diagnosis and treatment. Patients are then monitored to ensure they are not sent home too quickly or admitted into the hospital if not needed.

Our cardiac rehabilitation program's location

Fort Walton Beach Medical Center Cardiac Rehabilitation is located on our hospital campus. Our hours of operation for cardiac rehab are Mon - Fri: 7:00am - 3:30pm.

Our address is:

Fort Walton Beach Medical Center Cardiac Rehabilitation
928 Mar Walt Drive (Building D)
Fort Walton Beach, FL 32547

Patient Testimonials

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