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How stents and balloons open clogged arteries and save lives

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You may think open heart surgery is the only solution when it comes to clogged arteries. That’s not necessarily true.

Heart specialists today have a choice of less invasive procedures to get blood circulating smoothly through the vessels. In fact, when medically necessary, cardiologists use interventional procedures four times more often than open heart surgery.

That’s good news for people who have plaque buildup in their arteries. Blocked arteries can cause minor – or major – symptoms that range from dizziness and shortness of breath to chest pain and heart attack.

Non-surgical procedures, called percutaneous coronary interventions (PCI), can fix life-threatening blockages in the heart’s arteries. Specially trained cardiologists use devices, like balloons or stents, to remove plaque buildup, open blocked arteries and restore blood flow.

Patients are more likely to have shorter stays in the hospital and heal more quickly after a PCI than with open heart surgeries. The quick recovery means they can get back to activities they enjoy and restore their quality of life.

In some cases, a patient’s heart may be too weak to pump blood through the body. That’s when interventional cardiologists may use a tiny heart pump, called an Impella device, to temporarily deliver blood to the body. The device gives doctors time to stabilize patients during a PCI procedure or when a patient has a heart attack or chronic heart condition.

“This type of procedure is typically found in a university or teaching hospital,” said Dr. Farid Jalinous, Interventional Cardiologist at Goshen Heart & Vascular Center. “We’ve had excellent results.”

A philosophy of collaboration and respect guides the specialists at Goshen Heart & Vascular Center. Dr. Jalinous often works with Interventional Cardiologist Dr. Blair MacPhail to plan and perform procedures together. They also stay in contact with the patient’s primary care provider or referring specialist as they weigh the patient’s overall health and risks, then recommend the safest treatment option.

The cardiovascular team at Goshen Heart & Vascular Center treats patients with chronic cardiovascular diseases, coronary artery disease, heart failure or atrial fibrillation. Specialists also perform life-saving procedures for patients with acute events, such as heart attack, cardiogenic shock and cardiac arrest.

If you are concerned about your heart, talk to your primary care provider. Or, if you want to talk to someone at the Heart & Vascular Center, call (574) 537-5000 to make an appointment.

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