Doctors at St. Joseph's use minimally invasive approach to unblocking heart arteries

Through the wrist may mean less risk to patients

LUTZ, Fla. - Steve Meitzen walked into St. Joseph's Hospital North with a slight smile on his face and confidence in his stride.  Much different than the last time he was here.

"I was experiencing pain like a knuckle being rubbed hard into my solar plexus."

Steve had put off going to the hospital, so by the time he got the pain checked out, doctors had shocking news. Steve says, "They said I'd had a heart attack three to five days ago."

Doctor Christopher Pastore is an Interventional Cardiologist at St. Joseph's Hospital North. "You can see here, unfortunately the artery was almost totally blocked right in the middle of the artery."

Usually doctors go through an artery in the leg to get into a patient's heart, and re-open any blockages with a stent.  But Doctor Pastore went through an artery in Steve's wrist. "We have mounting data that suggests using the wrist artery may represent the preferred approach in most patients."

Doctor Pastore says that's due to the multiple advantages of the wrist approach, including improved comfort and reduced recovery time. "The key advantage is really a dramatic reduction in the number of major bleeding complications that we see."

And, he adds, it's less expensive. "It's taken time to catch on because the procedure requires some specialized training, but there are more and more interventional cardiologists using this procedure."

Steve says he felt very little during the procedure, and was left with only a little scar. "I was back at work in two days. When I went to work they said, ‘You shouldn't be here. What's going on?' I said, ‘I'm fine!'"

The only limitations on Steve after the procedure?  He says he couldn't use that arm to lift or do anything really physical for a week.

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