"I was having numbness and dizzy spells and chest pains," says Sherrie Mahon.
Mahon describes the typical symptoms of someone experiencing heart angina, usually due to an obstruction of an artery. Her primary care physician referred her to Dr. Morris Kelley at St. Vincent Heart Clinic of Arkansas for further evaluation. He immediately recommended an angiogram, or heart cath.
"Basically, we insert catheters into the body to access the coronary arteries and inject them with contrast die," says Dr. Kelley. "This allows us to see if there are any significant blockages."
For decades, the most commonly used entry point for heart caths has been the femoral artery in the groin. More Cardiologists, like Dr. Kelley, are opting to use a new access point, the radial artery located in the wrist. The new approach reduces recovery time and bleeding and may be a less stressful option for patients.
"Most of the complications related to this procedure are not associated with what we are doing to the heart of heart arteries," says Dr. Kelley. "They are actually related to where we get access or where we start the procedure."
After the catheter is removed from the radial artery, a compression device is placed around the wrist. Unlike the femoral approach, the patient is able to sit up, walk and eat immediately. It's a significant plus for Sherries Mahon. Plus more good news, Dr. Kelley didn't find any blockages.
While radial caths are becoming more popular for patients, there is still a learning curve for doctors.