Do you know the warning signs for a stroke? Would you recognize them in someone else? What about yourself? We often think if something like a stroke has occurred, we would realize it immediately, right? As it turns out, nearly 70 percent of people who have suffered a minor stroke don’t recognize the symptoms at all. Seeking medical treatment within the first three hours is critical to successful treatment. However, according to a study published in the journal Stroke, 30 percent of stroke patients wait more than 24 hours to contact their doctor or head to the emergency room.

How to... Read More »

It was Mark Nichols’ care and concern for his wife’s health, given her family history of heart attacks, that led him to join her for a cardiac CT angiogram scan at Oklahoma Heart Institute.

“Her brother passed away at age 50 from a sudden heart attack even though he never smoked and was a healthy guy,” said Nichols, a partner in a local construction company. “I told her that if she would take the test, I would sign up and join her, so we decided to do it.”

Afterward, Nichols’ wife Larrita, an employee of Hillcrest Medical Center, received excellent test results. His results,... Read More »

What is heart failure?

If you have heart failure, you're not alone. About 6 million Americans are currently living with it. In fact, it's one of the most common reasons people age 65 and older go into the hospital. It can take years for heart failure to develop. Heart failure symptoms usually develop over time as your heart becomes weaker and less able to pump blood that your body needs. Heart failure usually results in an enlarged heart (left ventricle). Heart failure is a serious long-term (chronic) condition. But you can live a full, active life with the right medical treatment... Read More »

After 20 years of guiding patients to maintaining healthy hearts at Oklahoma Heart Institute (OHI), cardiologist David Sandler, M.D., decided it was time to take care of his own health in 2023. His cholesterol levels were trending a little high, so he opted to take advantage of OHI's $499 heart scan special in February.

Dr. Sandler is a cardiac electrophysiologist at OHI who specializes in complex ablation and atrial fibrillation management. He underwent the scan, known as a cardiac computed tomography (CT) angiogram in February of 2023, which uses angled X-rays to construct... Read More »

Visiting the doctor can sometimes feel overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. Understanding how to make the most out of your time with your physician can greatly impact the quality of care you receive. Dr. Tyler Ellington, a seasoned cardiologist at the Oklahoma Heart Institute, shared invaluable insights into preparing for a doctor's appointment.

What Information Matters Most?

Dr. Ellington emphasizes the importance of coming prepared. Medication lists or actual pill bottles are gold standards for an accurate medication review. “Using the medicines that are in your cabinet,... Read More »


Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is frequently characterized by a fluttering sensation in the chest. It is a type of irregular, often rapid heartbeat resulting from the atria beating out of sync with the ventricles. While AFib itself isn't immediately life-threatening, it can elevate your risk of developing blood clots and stroke.

David Sandler, M.D.

David Sandler, M.D. is an electrophysiologist at Oklahoma Heart Institute (OHI). He shares risk factors for AFib, what issues the irregular beat can cause and how to avoid AFib. Mike Roberson, a patient with OHI, reflects on his... Read More »

Lauren E. Stegemann, APRN-CNS, is an advanced practice provider in Oklahoma Heart Institute’s cardiac interventional unit. The Tulsa native has worked at OHI since 2010, when she completed nursing school. She started in the cardiac catheterization lab, and then moved into her current role in the interventional unit in 2017 after receiving her advanced practice degree.

“I always enjoyed the sciences, and I was exposed to interventional cardiology growing up, so my current position was a natural outcome of that.” Stegemann said. 

Working with hospitalized patients and... Read More »

After more than 25 years in cardiology, Georgianne Tokarchik, APRN-CNS, continues her passion in her chosen field. The Tulsa native serves as coordinator of the Valve and Structural Heart Center at Oklahoma Heart Institute (OHI). Tokarchik's interest in medicine sparked early in her life, when she discovered her love of service to others.

“I was always drawn to wanting to help people and loved how I could do that through nursing,” said Tokarchik. “I went into cardiology because the heart is an amazing organ. I especially love the unique and ever-changing field of structural heart... Read More »

In January of 2022, after her doctor brought up concerns about heart problems and breast cancer related to her weight, Virginia Strate started on a journey to lose 50 pounds.

“I have struggled with weight and my weight has gone up and down since childhood. I noticed it had become harder to lose and my plateau weight had gotten higher and higher,” said Strate. “I heard about the program at Oklahoma Heart and I researched it and decided to contact them.”

Slowly but surely, Strate started to lose weight by following the diet and exercise guidance provided by the program.

... Read More »

When young nurses, interns and residents need questions answered on the fourth floor of Oklahoma Heart Institute, they will often turn to one person: “Mama Di.”

Diana Haley, 68, started working at Hillcrest Hospital in 1974 as a nurse’s aide while enrolled in the Hillcrest School of Nursing. After graduation, she became a registered nurse, focusing on cardiology. Outside of six years of managing the cardiac catheterization lab, she has been a mainstay in the Heart Telemetry Unit at Oklahoma Heart Institute.

During her 47 years of nursing, Haley has seen many changes around... Read More »