New heart procedure helping Western Montana patients

Posted at 9:31 AM, Jan 31, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-31 14:08:46-05

MISSOULA – Many cardiologists are offering their patients a new way to perform angiograms and stent placement that’s a lot less risky — especially for women.

Cardiologist Dr. Robert Minor recently demonstrated for us how he and other heart doctors can access a person’s heart through their wrist instead of the traditional practice of going through the groin.

“Recent studies show using the wrist as the only place to enter the body for these angiograms and stent procedures show now that it’s much much safer.” Dr. Minor explained.

“Patients prefer it, the nurses who take care of the patients prefer it, it’s easier to take care of them and people can go home the same day after getting a stent,” he added.

“And now we see there’s a mortality benefit, you live longer if you have stents put through the wrist instead of the groin,” Dr. Minor told MTN News.

CMC Heart Stent Procedure
Doctors can access a person’s heart through their wrist instead of the traditional practice of going through the groin. (MTN News photo)

The procedure has been common in Europe for years but it’s catching on here. In fact, Montana is leading the way in this country in offering this procedure to heart patients.

Accessing the heart through the wrist is a lot easier on the body.

“It’s a combination of things. But if you go through the groin you have to go through all the organ systems in the body including the brain arteries to get to the heart,” Dr. Minor said.

“Sometimes we think little cholesterol crystals may break off and go into those organs unintentionally and that’s completely avoided if you only go through the wrist,” he continued.

The procedure is also a better choice for women with studies showing that 25% of women in the US dies from heart disease often caused by narrowing or blockage of the coronary arteries — the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart itself.

“Women have five times the risks than men to have bleeding complications, they can be very serious and need blood transfusions and be life-threatening,” Dr. Minor said.

Heart Stent
The procedure is done daily at Community Medical Center in Missoula. (MTN News photo)

“If we go through the wrist, it’s the same as men, only a one percent chance of anything happening with bleeding so it’s really much safer for women especially to have procedures done through the wrist instead of the groin,” he added.

It’s a procedure done every day at the Billings Heart and Vascular Center at Community Medical Center in Missoula.  Dr. Minor also says feedback from patients who’ve undergone heart procedures using the wrist access is 100% positive.

He’s also studying whether wrist access is a better alternative for a host of other procedures in the body.

Dr. Minor will host a free lecture on how women can reduce their risk of heart attack, how to access the best health and knowing your symptoms of heart disease. The event will be held at 7:30 a.m. on Friday in the Gallagher Room at Community Medical Center in Missoula.

Friday is Go Red for Women Day to raise awareness about heart health for women.