Happy Early Birthday to our friends at the Cardiovascular Institute of the South (CIS).

Tomorrow, CIS will celebrate its 36th anniversary in providing complete cardiovascular care to communities in south Louisiana.

In the past year alone (from August to August), CIS has treated nearly 115,000 patients in Louisiana and beyond.

CIS is now a local medical power, but it comes from the humblest of beginnings.

It started as a one-man practice under the leadership of Dr. Craig Walker in Houma. It's since grown to become a world-renowned practice with more than 60 physicians and 800 team members, as well as 19 locations and seven telecardiology sites.

Louisiana has one of the highest incidences of heart disease in the United States, but studies have shown that CIS has improved heart disease death rates since 1983, making a dramatic impact on the number of hearts, limbs and lives saved in our community.

“Our greatest accomplishment has been that we have dramatically improved cardiovascular outcomes in each of the areas where we have established practices, and this is confirmed by national statistics,” said Dr. Craig Walker, interventional cardiologist and Founder, President and Medical Director at CIS. “We have now treated patients from every inhabited continent and from every U.S. state which is far beyond our early dreams.”

When Dr. Walker began CIS, his intent was to provide world-class cardiac and peripheral vascular care to south central Louisiana.

Over the years, CIS has pioneered many "firsts", including participating in the first peripheral stent trial in 1988 and the first coronary stent trial in 1989. Those are two of the many "firsts" that CIS has been part of over its history, earning them international acclaim as a leader of research and development in cardiovascular care.

Most recently, CIS was the first in Louisiana to use the BASILICA Procedure Technique for transcatheter aortic valve replacement - the first in the southeast U.S. to use the Tack Endovascular System to treat peripheral artery disease and first in the country to use the Mynx closure device for venous disease.

Over its history, CIS has taken pride in a patient-first approach. By doing that, CIS has contributed significantly to the advancement and development of non-surgical treatments for cardiovascular disease, with a special focus also on peripheral artery disease in the legs.

These interventional procedures are minimally-invasive and involve a much lower risk for patients and less recovery time than surgery.

“From the beginning, we sought out new techniques and helped to develop techniques to better care for our patients,” said Dr. Walker.

CIS has also established a first-of-its-kind Virtual Care Center in Lafayette, offering patients 24/7 access to their care team through a variety of programs, increasing access to care, improving outcomes and enhancing communication between the patient and provider.

CIS also recently announced its plans to develop a cardiac rehab facility in Lafayette, offering a holistic approach through exercise and nutrition to help patients with chronic conditions in the healing of their hearts.

In the present and future, CIS looks to continue to grow and expand to multiple locations, opening new clinics and offering telecardiology services to rural hospitals - all in an effort to make the most advanced cardiovascular care accessible to more communities.

“I take great pride in the fact that CIS has grown into one of the largest and most comprehensive cardiovascular programs anywhere in the world,” said Dr. Walker.

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Casey Gisclair is the Sports Editor at Rushing Media. A native of Cut Off and graduate of Louisiana State University, Casey is a lifelong sports fan who joined the Houma Times team in Dec. 2009 upon college graduation.

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