Angioplasty improvement cuts down on scarring and repeat procedures
Bill Hamel, a resident of Chicago's Beverly community does not consider himself a trendsetter.
However, he is the first patient at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn to have received a new type of stent used for angioplasty, or the clearing of a heart artery.
Hamel, 59, is on disability leave from the Chicago Police Department because of his health problems; he had a heart attack and angioplasty in 1988, and open heart surgery in 1996.
Recently, he experienced shortness of breath and went for a checkup. After a stress test "didn't turn out right," Dr. Bruce Abramowitz decided to try the new stent on Hamel.
A few days later, Hamel was feeling fine and looking forward to resuming his golf game.
"It actually turned out quite well. They asked me about it, and I told them to go ahead. What other options did I have?" Hamel said.
The stent, produced by Johnson & Johnson and recently put into use at Christ in Oak Lawn, has a coating of antibiotics that prohibits the growth of cells that form scar tissue.
One day after it was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Abramowitz used the stent to clear Hamel's clogged artery.
Abramowitz, who directs the interventional cardiology department at Christ, hailed the stent as "an important advance for the treatment of disease, especially from the patient's perspective."
Patients who formerly may not have been good candidates for a stent, those whose blood vessels have smaller diameters and those suffering from diabetes, appear to be good candidates for the stent, Abramowitz said.
The stent is made of steel mesh in a pattern that resembles a cyclone fence. It is put into place inside the artery after a balloon expands the artery. The stent is coated with an antibiotic that prevent growth of scar tissue, a normal occurrence with the procedure.
"This has cut the repeat procedure dramatically, perhaps down from 50 percent to about 3 percent," Abramowitz said.
He considers the stent an improvement on angioplasties, which clear arteries of cholesterol buildups by inflating a balloon on the end of a catheter and using a stent that isn't coated with medicine. The resulting scarring sometimes closes the artery again and requires a second operation or in some cases, heart bypass surgery, he said.
Hamel did not want to undergo another heart bypass surgery and was happy he was a candidate for the new procedure.
"Dr. Abramowitz told me I still have some weight to lose. I figure I could lose 30 pounds and still be over 200, but I feel OK now. Now we can start the weight-loss program," said Hamel who described himself as "a short fireplug."
Hamel was sent the day after the surgery.
Abramowitz says the cost of the stent, about $3,000 may seem too expensive for some, but he expects the cost to decrease once stents by other manufacturers are made available.