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Doctors Discuss Saving Your Heart Through Your Wrist

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Posted at 4:19 PM, Jul 17, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-07 05:51:10-04

PITTSBURGH. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Every year, one million Americans have undergone a procedure called angioplasty. Doctors have inserted a catheter with a stent into a patient’s artery to open blockages near their heart. Now, a new study may have cardiologists rethinking their approach and for some patients, an easier recovery may be all in the wrist.

“Morgan Ann is four and Harper Grace, she’ll be two on the fourth of July and she is a firecracker!” Judy Whipkey told Ivanhoe.

Judy Whipkey, age 68, has loved taking care of her granddaughters and the home she shares with husband, Jay, but for weeks, she had been exhausted and short of breath .Then an incident happened Judy could not ignore.

“About 4, 4:30 I woke up with all the symptoms that you read in the books and on the TV,” Whipkey explained.

Dr. Krishna Tummalapalli, Interventional Cardiologist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, found Judy had severe blockages in the arteries around her heart.

In the United States, most doctors have inserted heart stents by sending a catheter through an artery in the groin. But now, another approach has been gaining ground access to the heart using an artery in the wrist.

“It is easily compressible; hence the puncture site complications and vascular complications are much less,” Dr. Tummalapalli told Ivanhoe.

In a new study called the matrix trial, doctors at 78 European centers compared both and found the wrist approach greatly reduced the risk of major bleeding and death.

Dr. Tummalapalli said recovery has been easier.

“The patient does not need to lay down flat for four to six hours. They can sit up immediately. They can walk around” he explained.

For Judy, a tiny puncture mark has been the only reminder of the procedure that put her life back on track.

The wrist or radial approach has been used in about 20 percent of all stenting procedures in the United States. Dr. Tummalapalli said with the release of information from this new study as many as 50 percent of the procedures may soon be done with the wrist approach. Dr. Tummalapalli also said patients with renal failure or kidney dialysis would not be good candidates for this approach.

BACKGROUND: More than one million people a year in the United States undergo an angioplasty procedure. Coronary angioplasty is a procedure that is done in order to greatly improve blood flow to the heart. The procedure is done by using a balloon to open up a blockage that is in the coronary artery in the heart. An angioplasty procedure may be used to fix many complications including: improving symptoms of CAD, such as angina and shortness of breath, reduce damage to the heart muscle due to a heart attack, and to reduce the risk of death. (Source)

TRADITIONAL ANGIOPLASTY: If your doctor finds that your coronary arteries are blocked, he may opt to perform a coronary angioplasty in order to open these arteries for efficient blood flow to the heart. Coronary stents are more commonly used for this procedure and doctors usually enter a patient’s femoral artery in the groin which can be invasive. This method is referred to as the femoral approach. With the femoral approach, because the artery is deep, it can be hard to stop the bleeding after the catheter is removed and the blockage is opened. The femoral approach also has a high risk of bleeding for women and the elderly as well as a risk of acute coronary syndrome. (Source, Krishna Tummalapalli, MD)

NEW TECHNOLOGY: The radial approach is a newer approach in which doctors enter through the radial artery in the wrist. Krishna Tummalapalli, MD, Interventional Cardiologist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center said “The prediction is in the next few years we’ll probably reach 50 percent or more, using the radial approach.” According to Dr. Tummalapalli, the radial approach is gaining popularity in the U.S. Twenty percent of the stenting procedures were through the wrist in 2014. Doctors think the main reason for the growing popularity is because of patient comfort. With the radial approach patients don’t need to lay down flat for four to six hours. They can sit up immediately and walk around. Dr. Tummalapalli said, “Even after a stent placement, most patients can go home the same day after a radial arterial approach.” (Source: Krishna Tummalapalli, MD) MORE.