M10 — March 2012 — New Route to the Heart
Intro: Every year thousands of people have cardiac catheterizations, or angioplasties. That's when a doctor threads a catheter to your heart arteries to look for blockages and other issues. If they do see a blockage, they can decide if placing a stent to open it would be beneficial. For years, doctors have used the artery near your groin as an access point for this procedure. But now, some are using the artery in your wrist. Why? Because it may be safer and easier on patients.
If you like picking, I got the best picking you ever heard.
Mountain music. Wood. To Greg Beamer, that combo can't be beat.
This stuff's fantastic.
When you watch Greg doing his thing in the shop, you'd never know that once a week or so he gets hit by chest pain. Stable angina.
I have chest pain heaviness, pressure.
His symptoms are the result of a heart that's kept on beating despite heart attack, a bypass …
There's a certain part of my heart that isn't working.
And six stents to open narrowed arteries.
Dr. Rajiv Gulati says most of those stents were placed the traditional way — via the femoral artery.
The downside of that has been that patients will often need to lie flat for a number of hours after the procedure because there is a risk of the femoral artery bleeding because it's under high pressure, and we need to allow the vessel to heal up before we can have the patient move around.
But, Greg's last stent was placed using a different entry point. The radial artery in the wrist.
There have been a number of studies now that have compared femoral versus radial access, and every single study shows a lower bleeding risk.
Plus there's often less discomfort, and patients can go home the same day and get back to normal activities. Here's how the two procedures compare: For the traditional method, doctors place the catheter into the femoral artery and run it up to the heart. For the other method, doctors start at the radial artery in the wrist and thread the catheter to the heart. Same access to arteries, but fewer risks.
Greg says if he ever has to have another stent, he's going to opt for the wrist procedure.
I know the difference.
Right now Greg's not thinking about what might happen in the future. He's focused on working with wood in his shop to the tunes of mountain music.
How can you get unhappy with something like that going on?
For Medical Edge, I'm Vivien Williams.
Dr. Gulati says if you need a stent there's no guarantee you can have the radial artery procedure. Only people who have good blood supply to their wrist and arteries that aren't too small are candidates. Also, some people who have bypasses can't have the procedure because wrist arteries are sometimes used in that operation. But for the right person, this procedure can be very beneficial.
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