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Wrist Access Safer, Easier for Many Patients Undergoing Minimally Invasive Treatment of Blocked Heart Arteries
Date:1/19/2009

HOLLYWOOD, Fla., Jan. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- A new approach to unblocking heart arteries minimally invasively will mean less bleeding, less down time, lower costs and less risk overall, particularly for obese patients, according to data being presented at the 21st annual International Symposium on Endovascular Therapy (ISET).

Every year, about one million Americans opt for angioplasty over bypass surgery to open their blocked arteries. New data suggests that beginning the angioplasty procedure by entering through the wrist - rather than through the groin - will make it safer and easier on patients.

To access the arteries, an interventional physician makes a small incision in the groin at the top of the leg and advances a thin tube (catheter) through the femoral artery to the site of the blockage. A tiny balloon is then inflated to open up the artery, and often a small cage-like tube called a stent is left behind to keep it open. But there is a risk of bleeding and nerve damage at the femoral artery access site. To reduce the risk, patients must lie down for two to six hours after treatment. Also, accessing the femoral artery in the groin is particularly challenging and risky in obese people.

Accessing the blocked blood vessels through the wrist (radial) artery, rather than the femoral artery significantly reduces the risk of bleeding and nerve damage, suggests data on more than 5,000 procedures performed at Baptist Cardiac & Vascular Institute, Miami. The radial approach also is easier on patients because they can sit up after the procedure and walk away almost immediately.

Currently, only about two percent of all minimally invasive heart treatments are performed through the wrist.

"I believe 75 percent of patients would be candidates for the radial approach if it were an option," said Ramon Quesada, M.D., medical director of interventional cardiology at Baptist Cardiac &
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SOURCE International Symposium on Endovascular Therapy
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