Cardiac Angioplasty Offers Patients New Hope
When it comes to medical care, the patient always comes first. During an emergency like a heart attack, both compassion and expertise play central roles in the patient’s survival and recovery. Dr. Babar Shareef, a member of Lawnwood Regional Medical Center and Heart Institute’s award-winning cardiac care team, discusses his approach to cardiac care and treating heart attacks.
Q: What’s your philosophy on medicine? How important is the individual patient?
A: I think it’s easy to practice medicine if you always put the patient first. I just imagine what I would do for my father, mother, brother, sister, or friend, and that makes my decision making easy. I can sleep well at night, knowing that I’ve done the best I could for the patient.
Q: The most widely practiced treatment for heart attack is a cardiac angioplasty. How does that procedure work?
A: We go into the narrowed artery with the balloon, pushing all of the plaque to the artery wall, deploy the stent, which acts as a scaffolding for the artery so it doesn’t collapse, and then bring the balloon out.
Q: Does the procedure hurt at all?
A: This is a procedure that should not be painful. We numb the groin or the arm, depending on which way we are going in, and we give patients mild sedation as well. Once we are done with the procedure, patients are sent to a recovery area and monitored there overnight. The next morning, they are usually discharged.
Q: Can any patient with heart blockage have this procedure, even if a heart attack hasn’t occurred?
A: There are definitely selection criteria. Patients may not be candidates for this procedure if they are morbidly sick, if they have significant blockages in the legs and arms, or if their anatomy precludes them from having angioplasty. Those patients are referred for bypass surgery. In this day and age, however, most patients can undergo this procedure.
Q: It sounds like angioplasty has become relatively common. Is it?
A: Millions and millions of these procedures are done all over the world. In the last ten or twelve years, I’ve done thousands of them myself.
Q: So are patients completely healthy after an angioplasty? What kind of follow-up care is required?
A: Patients have to be on certain medications after the procedure, especially aspirin and a blood thinner called Plavix®,”“and risk factor modification as well. You need to exercise. You need to keep your weight in check. That goes for any patient with heart disease.
If you have questions about heart attack, angioplasty, or other cardiac care issues, please contact us at Consult-a-Nurse® at 1-800-382-3522.