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William W. Brabham, MD, FHRS, inside Lexington Medical Heart and Vascular Center.

Featured Article

Lexington Medical Center Is The Heart Of The Midlands

Lexington Medical Center Receives Prestigious HeartCARE Center™ National Distinction of Excellence From American College of Cardiology

Article by Jennifer Wilson, Lexington Medical Center Public Relations Manager

Originally published in Lake Murray Lifestyle

Mary Green Brush takes a brisk one-hour walk almost every day with a friend in her Columbia neighborhood.

But the walk she took on November 16 brought her down a path she’ll never forget.

“The neighborhood has hills. Toward the end of a large hill, I would sometimes feel lightheaded and short of breath,” she said. “But on that day, it was much worse. I felt like if I kept going, I was going to pass out.”

And despite sitting on the curb for a few minutes, going home and sipping some cold water, that feeling didn’t go away.

“I kept being lightheaded. I was seeing spots. And I still had shortness of breath.”

Her heart rate was high, and her blood pressure was low. She vomited several times. Mary's husband and her neighbor called 9-1-1.  When paramedics arrived, Mary tried to stand up, but nearly fainted.

Inside the ambulance, the paramedics told Mary she had atrial fibrillation, a type of irregular heartbeat that can cause heart palpitations, fatigue, lightheadedness, chest discomfort, and shortness of breath.

“I said, ‘What? That’s a big deal! How could I have that?’”

At age 68, Mary Green, a retired communications professional who worked at SCANA, eats healthy, exercises and sees a doctor routinely. Sometimes, her blood pressure became low, and over the years, she experienced intermittent bouts of lightheadedness or shortness of breath, but Mary said her doctors in Columbia dismissed it as nothing unusual.

When she arrived at the Lexington Medical Center Emergency Department in West Columbia, Mary met Robert A. Leonardi, MD, FACC, FSCAI, cardiologist with Lexington Medical Heart and Vascular Center.

“Atrial fibrillation is a heart rhythm abnormality that is increasingly common with age, can have many different triggers, and is usually associated with high heart rates,” Dr. Leonardi said. “Without proper management, it can lead to heart failure and strokes. It’s also highly treatable.”

Dr. Leonardi and the Emergency department team administered the medicine that stopped Mary's atrial fibrillation. 

But doctors admitted Mary to the hospital so that they could run more tests. Inside Lexington Medical Center’s cardiac catheterization lab, doctors found that she had a 30 percent blockage of plaque in one artery and an echocardiogram revealed a slight stiffening of the heart.

“Mary’s symptoms of lightheadedness and shortness of breath combined with her very low blood pressures made us worry. She did the right thing by coming to the hospital, where we could figure out how to help her,” Dr. Leonardi said. Some patients are reluctant to leave home because of COVID-19, but coming to the hospital with symptoms of shortness of breath, chest discomfort, or lightheadedness is much safer than staying at home.”

Today, Mary's back to walking the neighborhood, and the lightheadedness is gone. 

“What they did for me saved my life,” she said.

Mary Green wrote a letter to Lexington Medical Heart and Vascular Center after she was discharged from the hospital, ending it this way:

“Thank you so much for such a wonderful practice with doctors and staff who have such compassion and medical skills.”

A HeartCARE Center

Lexington Medical Center has received the prestigious HeartCARE Center™ National Distinction of Excellence from the American College of Cardiology. The hospital is the only health care organization in South Carolina with this accreditation, and one of only 30 in the United States to achieve this honor. 

The HeartCARE Center National Distinction of Excellence is the highest honor the ACC awards. Lexington Medical Center achieved this elite status by demonstrating its commitment to delivering the highest quality heart care for our community.

“Since Lexington Medical Center began its comprehensive cardiovascular care program in 2012, we have strived to provide the best possible heart care to our families, friends, and neighbors,” said Tod Augsburger, president & CEO of Lexington Medical Center. “This honor reflects our commitment to meeting our hospital’s mission of providing quality health services that meet the needs of our community.” 

The ACC has repeatedly recognized Lexington Medical Center for its excellent heart care. In 2014, the hospital received the organization’s Chest Pain Center Accreditation for providing efficient and effective care for acute coronary syndrome patients. In July 2020, Lexington Medical Center became the first hospital in South Carolina and the second in the nation with an Accredited ACC Cardiac Cath Lab. In September 2020, Lexington Medical Center became the ACC’s first certified Transcatheter Valve program in South Carolina, and one of just 14 nationally.

Robert M. Malanuk, MD, FACC, medical director of Lexington Medical Heart and Vascular Center, said the recognition reflects a team effort.

“We are proud of our heart program for being nationally recognized by this honor and for being the first in the state as a designated HeartCARE center,” Dr. Malanuk said. “This recognition reflects a tremendous effort put forward by a team of doctors, advanced practice providers, nurses and support staff who have a passion for quality and service. We dedicate ourselves daily to ensure that Lexington Medical Center is the best place for our patients to receive their heart and vascular care.” 

Complete Cardiovascular Care

For nearly 11 years, Lexington Medical Center has provided patients with complete cardiac care. Lexington Medical Heart and Vascular Center integrates all cardiovascular services available in the hospital’s network and leads the way in shaping cardiovascular care in the Midlands.

Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States. Lexington Medical Heart and Vascular Center represents Lexington Medical Center’s commitment to help serve community members facing this challenging disease. The team at Lexington Medical Heart and Vascular Center includes all cardiologists, cardiovascular surgeons, vascular surgery specialists, and advanced practice providers in cardiovascular care.

Heart disease and vascular disease are serious and closely related. Patients who have one are more likely to have the other. The multidisciplinary team combines the expertise of three medical specialties to address patients’ needs from diagnosis and treatment to management and prevention. 

“Lexington Medical Heart and Vascular Center will allow us to continue to provide quality health care services that meet the needs of our growing community,” said Jeffrey A. Travis, MD, cardiothoracic surgeon.

For more information about Lexington Medical Heart and Vascular Center, visit

  • Lexington Medical Center's team of doctors, advanced practice providers, nurses and support staff who have a passion for quality and service.
  • William W. Brabham, MD, FHRS, inside Lexington Medical Heart and Vascular Center.