30 Years After First Angioplasty

30 Years After First Angioplasty
By: Mike Shain
Thirty years ago you had a one in four chance of dying if you had a heart attack and that's if you reached a hospital, but today's survival chance is 95 percent thanks in part to a procedure called angioplasty.
Heart surgery is thought of as one of the great medical advances but it's only usable if the patient survives a heart attack.
Think of angioplasty as almost an emergency room proceedure.  It's quick and limits the damage done by an attack.
Dr. Tim talbert, a Cape Girardeau cardiologist, says he and other physicians could do little helpful intervention before angioplasty became available.
The cardiologist assisted by a specially trained team thread a catheter through an artery in the groin and up to the heart.  A tiny balloon attached to the catheter is inflated, squeezing aside artery blocking plaque.  A small wire mesh device called a stint is inserted to keep the narrowed passage open and blood flowing.
Doctor Talbert performed this area's first angioplasty in the spring of 1981, less than four years after the proceedure was developed.
Even he is surprised at the life saving results.
Dr. Talbert says some research hospitals are working with a stint that, like stitches, dissolves after the artery heals. Research is underway to use it to stop strokes as well.