Save your heart through your wrist

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Every year, 1 million Americans undergo a procedure called angioplasty. (KFSN)

Every year, 1 million Americans undergo a procedure called angioplasty. Doctors insert 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.

Judy Whipkey told ABC30, "Morgan Ann is 4 and Harper Grace, she'll be 2 on the Fourth of July and she is a firecracker!"

Whipkey, 68, loves 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 Whipkey 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.

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

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

Dr. Tummalapalli told ABC30, "It is easily compressible; hence the puncture site complications and vascular complications are much less."

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 says recovery is 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 Whipkey, a tiny puncture mark is the only reminder of the procedure that put her life back on track.

The wrist or radial approach is used in about 20 percent of all stenting procedures in the United States. Dr. Tummalapalli says 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 says patients with renal failure or kidney dialysis would not be good candidates for this approach.

For more information on this report, please contact:

HVI Cardiology
Shadyside Medical Building
5200 Centre Ave. suite 514
Pittsburgh, PA 15232
(412) 621-1500
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