Dale Ruby: A Matter of the Heart

Each year approximately 1.1 million Americans have a heart attack. For approximately 515,000, myocardial infarction means death. (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)

Yet only half of these deaths occur suddenly (within an hour of symptoms showing). Those at highest risk for heart disease (49% or half of Americans) have one of three risk factors: high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol or smoking. Other issues raising the risk of heart disease are: diabetes, obesity, poor diet, physical inactivity, and excessive alcohol use. CDC Mr. Dale Ruby of the Ocala Heart Institute warns, “Early warning signs of an impending heart attack must be acted upon early.” (Right now, about 47% of sudden cardiac deaths happen outside a hospital.)

The most commonly noted sign is chest pain; other signals are:

• Upper body pain

• Discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw, upper stomach

• Shortness of breath

• Nausea

• Lightheadedness

• Cold sweats

To save a life, call 911 when warning signs manifest themselves.

 Dale Ruby, Perfusionist

Dale Ruby, Perfusionist

Dale Ruby is a cardiac perfusionist with the Ocala Heart Institute (OHI). The Ocala Heart Network operates within seven hospitals in Florida. Mr. Ruby works at Martin Health Services--North, since the hospital opened its heart program eight years ago. His role in the operating room is to operate the heart-lung bypass machine in any procedure in which the heart is stopped. Mr. Ruby also assists with ventilation of a patient.

According to Dale Ruby, Martin North sees an average of 150 heart-related procedures yearly. --75 to 80 percent are for a bypass.

--20 to 25 percent are valve issues. The physicians’ first attempt to repair and will replace when necessary.

--3 to 4 percent are major vascular—an aneurysm, or for aortic dissections.

The Ocala Heart Institute in Stuart, Florida at the Frances Langford Heart Center of Martin Health System is rated one of the Top 50 Hospitals for Heart Care by Thomson Reuters because of extremely low risk-adjusted mortality and complication rates. This places the cardiac group in the top 1% of hospitals nationally.

New in the science of cardiac medicine are the hybrid operating rooms offered at Martin North. The advanced imaging of cardiology comes into the cardiac operating room, or cardiac surgeons will go into the catherization lab, effectually combining the two aspects of heart medicine creating one room with great imaging. By working together, cardiology and cardiac offer patients less invasive procedures. Martin Health Systems—North has offered the cardiac/cardiology hybrid operating room for more than a year.

Dale Ruby now resides in Palm City, Florida, but grew up in New Jersey. He is the son of a volunteer firefighter who received a lung injury as a result of firefighting. Firefighter safety equipment in the 1970s was not as advanced as it is today. Mr. Ruby’s father developed COPD and bad asthma from the lung injury. Several times he was resuscitated after nearly dying. Ruby states, “I saw how Dad was cared for at the hospital. I thought, ‘I would like to be able to help people in such an immediate way.’” His compassion for others became his lifelong career as a cardiac perfusionist.

 Dale Ruby in China with Ocala Heart Institute

Dale Ruby in China with Ocala Heart Institute

Before coming to Martin County, Dale Ruby began traveling with the Ocala Heart Institute (OHI) to areas of the world where there is no open heart cardiac care (93%). Afterward, he joined the group and moved his residence to Palm City. In 2001 he visited a remote area of China near North Korea. He also has gone to Inner Mongolia, India and Tanzania. Tanzania is only just now developing heart surgery availability.

 Dale Ruby in China

Dale Ruby in China


Ocala Heart Institute has been an established program for over 25 years. The organization is unique in that it regularly provides physicians with opportunities to participate in humanitarian work. For more than 12 years, the doctors have provided cardiac training and education for native physicians and performed heart procedures. Ocala Heart Institute also founded an orphanage in China. OHI believes in the power of prayer and medicine, working together. Once, during an earthquake, all the Chinese evacuated the surgery room, leaving only the American team of doctors with their unconscious patient. These few prayed from the 15th floor of the building they were in. OHI doctors also offer hope and prayer to patients prior to surgery, even in China.

Mr. Dale Ruby is a hometown hero, not just in the United States, but in the cities and towns he has visited to help save the lives of others.

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