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New Ways To Save Hearts

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DURHAM, NC ( Ivanhoe Newswire) - A half a million people die of heart disease each year.  Now new game changing procedures are saving hearts and lives. What's new today will be the norm tomorrow.

Your heart beats 70 times a minute, a hundred thousand times a day. But each day, 2,500 hearts stop. Now three new game changers are keeping more hearts beating strong.

"To me, each time it's done, it's like a miracle," Robert Siegal, M.D, at Cedars Sinai Hospital, Los Angeles, told Ivanhoe.

Even doctors are in awe that heart valves can now be replaced without open heart surgery.

"Within an hour in the cath lab, they've gone from having an 85 year old valve to a valve that's brand new," Dr.Siegal said.

Retired meat cutter Will Neighbors avoided going under the knife himself after he was diagnosed with aortic valve stenosis. His heart valve was calcified, hardening and failing.

"I just really couldn't do anything. I couldn't much more than walk across the floor, and then I just had to labor to do that," Will said.

Duke cardiologists replaced his old valve with a new pig valve delivered on the end of a catheter through a groin artery to the heart.

"Rather than removing the valve this catheter-based system is a stent that opens and pushes the old scarred valve out of the way," Kevin Harrison, M.D., a cardiologist at Duke University Medical Center, explained.

Studies show 50% of patients who used drugs to help their stenosis died within a year. Compare that to just 30% who had their valve replaced without open heart surgery.

"It looks like a child's aortic valve," Dr. Siegal said.

Just one week after another life-saving heart surgery, Brian Bennett enjoyed playing hoops with his son. Several of Brian's arteries around his heart were clogged with a buildup of fat and cholesterol.

"I was a walking time bomb," Brian said..

He was one of the first to get a same-day coronary angioplasty where tiny balloons are inflated into the blocked arteries. Traditionally, cardiologists access the heart by threading a catheter through an artery in the leg. Now they have changed their approach, starting at the wrist.

"Because the artery in your wrist is right on the surface, it's very visible. It's right next to ta bone. You can easily stop any bleeding," Adam Greenbaum, M.D,  a Director of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory at Henry Ford Hospital, said.

The risk of bleeding is less and patients can go home the same day. Brian was out of the hospital in six hours. And for some, stents are life-savers to keep arteries open.  Now, a new stent could do the job, and then dissolve away.

"The vessel needs to be supported for three to four months, after that it heals to the point where it's no longer at risk for the collapse," Stephen Ellis, M.D., an interventional cardiologist  at the Cleveland Clinic, said.

On traditional stents, there's a high risk of blood clots forming on the stent setting off a heart attack. At just 41 years old, Willi Hampton knows the danger.

"It started to feel heavy like someone was sitting on my chest," Willi told Ivanhoe.

That heaviness ended in stroke. Doctors hope patients like him will benefit from the absorbable stents. They provide support to blood vessels, release anti-scarring medication and then disappear.

"The goal is to make this sort of stent the gold standard," Dr. Ellis said.

Another game changer, we've known for some time that statins lower bad cholesterol. Now doctors are using drugs like Zocor, Lipitor and Crestor for people who do not have high cholesterol, but still have increased inflammation in the body. It can also lead to heart disease.  If heart disease runs in your family, but your HDL is normal, ask your doctor for a blood test to check your inflammation level.

RESEARCH SUMMARY 

BACKGROUND: Heart disease is a term used to describe a range of diseases that affect your heart. The various diseases include those of blood vessels, such as coronary artery disease; heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias); heart infections; and heart defects you're born with (congenital heart defects). The term "heart disease" is often used interchangeably with "cardiovascular disease." Cardiovascular disease generally refers to conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack, chest pain (angina) or stroke. Other heart conditions, such as infections and conditions that affect your heart's muscle, valves or beating rhythm, also are considered forms of heart disease. (www.mayoclinic.com)

PREVENTION: Certain types of heart disease, such as heart defects, can't be prevented. However, you can help prevent many other types of heart disease by making lifestyle changes such as:

  • Quit smoking
  • Control other health conditions, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes
  • Exercise at least 30 minutes a day on most days of the week
  • Eat a diet that's low in salt and saturated fat
  • Maintain a healthy weight

• Reduce and manage stress
• Practice good hygiene (www.mayoclinic.com)

GAME CHANGING TREATMENTS:

  1. TAVI: An investigational treatment for severe aortic stenosis in which an artificial aortic heart valve, attached to a wire frame, is guided by catheter to the heart. Once in the proper position, the wire frame expands allowing the new valve to open and begin to pump blood. CoreValve Clinical trials are being sponsored by Medtronic. (www.medtronic.com)
  2. Radial artery angioplasty: Doctors at Henry Ford Hospital are using a new technique for cardiac catheterization that causes less bleeding and shortens recovery time. The technique uses the radial artery in the wrist to gain access to the heart. Most U.S. doctors still use the femoral artery technique, but the radial artery technique is slowly gaining acceptance because of its safety and patient convenience advantages. (www.henryford.com)
  3. Absorbable Stents: ABSORB by Abbott is the first device of its kind to treat coronary artery disease. It dissolves in approximately two years. Since a permanent metallic implant is not left behind, naturally occurring vessel functions can be restored. In January 2011, Europe approved ABSORB for use. It is still under development in the U.S. (www.abbott.com)

 
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:

Adam Greenbaum, MD
Director, Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory
Henry Ford Hospital
(313) 916-3875
agreenb1@hfhs.org

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