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Updated stent procedure safer for heart patients | Health

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Updated stent procedure safer for heart patients
Health, News
Updated stent procedure safer for heart patients

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich (WZZM) - There are over a million heart stent procedures performed in the United States every year and that now routine procedure is becoming even safer with a new wrist procedure being done in West Michigan.

For more than 30 years heart stents have been prolonging the lives of patients with blocked arteries.

Until recently that procedure was performed by entering the femoral artery in the groin and then entering the heart but it didn't come without risks, "The biggest complication which are still relatively rare which are bleeding problems and problems with the circulation to the legs."  Dr. David Wohns is a cardiologist with Spectrum Health, he's performed thousands of stent procedures.  "So there was a push to develop more user friendly catheters and equipment to do it from the arm no incision."

Dr. Wohns has begun using an artery in the wrist to insert the catheter that will then help place the stent in the blocked artery.  "We virtually eliminated the bleeding problems from the wrist."

And it also cuts down on the amount of time the procedure takes.  Dr. Wohns can gain access to a patient's artery in just 2 minutes and place the stent in under 18.  The groin procedure and take up to 45 minutes longer.

Dr. Wohns believes the new wrist procedure is not only safer but gives patients a faster recovery time.  "It's less intrusive working on somebody's arm than in the groin area, you can get up afterwards, you can eat afterwards, you don't have to spend 6-12 hours in bed afterwards."

Del Langdon is already seeing the benefit to the new procedure.  In January he had a stent put in through his groin.  He was on bed rest, had to stay the night and couldn't drive for two weeks.  "Now with this you just don't pick up anything over 10 pounds pretty much you don't have to worry about your leg cramping up or anything like that.  This was great, I mean I'm coming home right now after 4 hours of being up here."

The new wrist procedure not only reduces risks and patient costs but gets them home faster with a healthy heart.

Right now only about 8-percent of cardiologists across the country are using the new stent procedure.  Spectrum Health is the only hospital in West Michigan currently performing it.

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