Often, heart problems can be treated without surgery, and the Aspirus Heart & Vascular Institute offers a broad range of cardiac procedures, some available nowhere else in Wisconsin.
Angioplasty and stents
Angioplasty is the gold standard for treating blockages. During the procedure, a cardiologist uses a thin wire catheter to access a diseased vessel. A balloon on the tip of the catheter is inflated to open the blockage. In some cases, a tiny metal coil called a stent is expanded inside the blocked vessel and left in place to keep it from re-narrowing.
This cardiac procedure utilizes right radial artery, which is located in the wrist, as an entry point for catheterizations. Advantages of this techinique include:
Even in obese patients, the radial artery is close to the skin surface, making the initial needle puncture simple and straight-forward.
When the procedure has been completed, a short compression of the radial artery can stop the bleeding
Should any bleeding occur, it can be seen immediately.
Patients leave the catheterization lab and are able to sit up and walk almost immediately.
Almost anyone would be a candidate for this cardiac procedure as long as their radial arteries are in good condition. It is important for patients to discuss the risks and benefits of the femoral vs. radial approaches, as these can vary for each individual.
Heart rhythm treatment
Irregular heart rhythms, or arrhythmias, affect millions of Americans. And while some arrhythmias require no treatment at all, or can be effectively managed with lifestyle changes and medications, some require additional treatment.
At the Aspirus Heart & Vascular Institute, we offer permanent and temporary pacemakers, which are implanted into the patient's heart or upper chest to provide a reliable heartbeat when the heart's own rhythm is too fast, too slow or irregular. We also implant defibrillators, which send out a small amount of electricity to the patient’s heart when needed to jolt the heart rhythm back to normal.
Additional cardiac procedures
New technologies are continuously introduced to cardiovascular medicine, and the Aspirus Heart & Vascular Institute is on the leading edge of adopting the most promising advances. Here are examples of cardiac procedures that are providing new hope to our patients:
A method of reducing low-density lipoprotein, or “bad cholesterol,” levels in people unable to do so with diet and medication. Blood is withdrawn and separated into blood cells and plasma. The plasma passes through special columns that remove excess LDL, after which the plasma is recombined with the blood cells and returned to the patient. The treatment is performed as often as once a week and usually takes three hours to complete.
Enhanced External Counterpulsation (EECP)
A noninvasive therapy for certain patients with chronic chest pain. With the patient lying on a bed, compression cuffs (similar to blood pressure cuffs) are wrapped around the calves, thighs and lower abdomen. Treatment usually lasts an hour per day, five days per week, for seven weeks, which is a total of 35 hours.
A treatment for people with a hole in the wall between the atria, or upper chambers of the heart. This hole, called Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO), increases risk for heart attack and stroke. By placing threading a special catheter into the heart, a cardiologist can place a small umbrella-like closure device in the hole, sealing it. Over time, heart tissue grows over the implant, becoming part of the heart.