Friday, October 23, 2009
Medical Reports: Heart Help
Blocked arteries are blamed for many heart attacks, but now doctors have a new treatment, which is allowing some patients a longer healthier life. Seven's Richard Lemus has more in today's Healthcast.
WSVN -- At the age of 52, Kathy Burks thought she was too young and too active to have a heart attack.
Kathy Burks: "I just sat down. I just dialed 911, and at that time my hand just kind of went numb. I said, 'It's something with my heart because my chest has just never hurt like that before.'"
One of her arteries was completely blocked. The standard treatment is angioplasty, where doctors insert a balloon at the end of a catheter to expand a stent, which re-opens the artery.
Kathy Burks: "So that's how the stent gets expanded."
But after the procedure, patients can still be at risk. A sudden rush of blood into a re-opened artery can damage the heart muscle.
Dr. Habib Samady: "It turns out, that how patients do after a heart attack is largely dependent on the final size of the heart attack or the damage that is incurred on the muscle."
Now, cardiologists are testing a new technique called Stuttering instead of opening the artery all at once, they inflate and deflate the balloon several times in order to restore blood flow gradually.
Dr. Habib Samady: "Our idea is to restore this blood flow in a stuttering fashion to make the muscle accept the fresh blood in a way that won't cause that much damage."
Studies show stuttering decreases the chance of injury by as much as 50 percent, improving the odds of recovering. Something that means a lot to someone like Kathy.
Kathy Burks: "Well, that means longer life."
Two months after her surgery Kathy is setting her own recovery pace and heading toward a healthier future.
Richard Lemus: "The stuttering procedure was developed several years ago, and studies in the U.S. are still on-going."
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Emory Health Sciences
Tel: (404) 227-1871