Radical Heart Procedure

Arthur James is in his early 50′s. He’s prepped and ready surgery, after experiencing shortness of breath and fatigue.  The two symptoms were early stages of heart disease;  and to keep it from getting worse, doctors needed to act fast.


Cardiologists perform cardiac catheterizations to get rid of the blockage.  The medical procedure is used to perform angiograms that detect blockages in arteries and deploy stents to prop open treated vessels that provide the critical blood supply to the heart’s muscle.

A long, thin, flexible tube called a catheter is put into a blood vessel in your arm, groin (upper thigh), or neck and threaded to your heart.  However, doctors at Thomas Hospital in Fairhope are going for a more radical approach called, radial catheterization, or catheterization via the wrist.

According to Dr. McLean Trotter, Interventional Cardiologist at Thomas Hospital Radical, radial catheterizations are seen as a much more comfortable and safer for patients, because it’s associated with fewer bleeding complications.  The technique is potentially cheaper for the health-care system too.  Ironically, in comparison to traditional catheterization, only a small percentage of radial procedures are performed in the U.S.

“The Achilles’ heel in putting in a stent has typically been bleeding complications.  But if you take that out of the equation altogether, with a radial procedure, it adds to the benefit for the patient,” said Dr. Trotter

Heart disease is the number on killer in America.  But cardiologists say you don’t have to end up in the operating room if you maintain a healthy lifestyle.

  • Don’t smoke or use tobacco
  • Exercise for 30 minutes on most days of the week
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Get regular health screenings

“There is no question there are some patients that are much more prone to coronary disease, via a genetic disposition, however, with good diet and exercise you really can prevent a lot of it,” explained Dr. Trotter.

James admits he hasn’t done the best job in taking care of himself.  He’s had two heart attacks in the past few years, and smoked a lot.  He is looking to make a change in the New Year so he can around for his four children and grand-kids.

Infirmary Health says it offers non-invasive diagnostics including nuclear tests, stress tests and EKGs.  Coronary interventions such as stents and balloon angioplasty are determined in the hospitals heart catheterization labs.

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