In this health video you will learn all about the advances being made in treating heart disease.
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Raena Morgan: Dr. Thompson, say you make it to the hospital, you're having heart attack, and you're lucky enough to get to the hospital in time. What kind of high tech advances are we looking at that are going to save lives? Dr. Owen Thompson: Truly amazing advances. Really amazing! The first high tech, advanced treatment for heart disease started in the late, mid to late 1960s, was the intensive care unit, where people were hooked up to monitors that monitored their heart rhythm. They were in special units where the nurses were very well trained to watch for signs of arrhythmia, to watch for signs of heart failure, and people were treated quickly for those events, and their survival rate went up a lot. So in the 60s that really started, and then in the 70s and 80s we started to move a lot of the technology from the intensive care unit to the emergency room. Then from the emergency room to the ambulance, so the quicker people can get to cardiac monitoring and individuals who have anti-arrhythmic drugs, clot buster drugs and those things, the better the survival rate. The other things that have happened than was the cardiac catheterization, where the cardiologist will cut into an artery, usually in your groin, and actually feed a catheter up into your heart, a little plastic tubing, and then they'll inject dye into your coronary arteries, and be able to get a very clear picture if individuals had a heart attack, or is having chest pain that appears to be coming from their heart, as to how much heart disease they have. If any, where it is, and what can be done about it. Then in regards to high tech is to what can be done about it. In the late 60s and more so in the 70s and 80s, cardiac surgery became highly perfected, and people began to have bypasses. What a bypass is, if there's a blockage in an artery, they literally take a vein or an artery from elsewhere and bypass around it, so that the blood flows around the congested area, and improves the circulation to the heart muscle. Everything is geared about improving circulation to the heart muscle. So that was the first major breakthrough. Raena Morgan: Well, it sounds like they've mastered so much. Dr. Owen Thompson: They really have. Then what came after that was what was called, or is called the balloon angioplasty, where they'd go in with these catheters. And where there was a narrowed area in the artery, the coronary artery, they'd slide the catheter in there, and blow up the end of it. The balloon on the end literally and stretch the artery back open. And that developed in the 80s, and was really a big thing and a major breakthrough. But then they found that some people that got balloon angioplasties, that the artery would restinose, or close back down a few weeks or a few months later. Then they invented stents, and most people have heard of stents. Raena Morgan: Right, I've heard of them. Dr. Owen Thompson: Yes, and stents are like little mini -- if you think of a culvert going under your driveway or under a road to bring water from one area to another,. it's kind of a very super mini-culvert. So they go into these areas and will stretch them open with the balloon, and then they'll slide this little stint in. That so if the artery is going to try to squeeze itself back down, the stint will hold it open, so that the blood can pass through, and again, maintain that vital circulation to the heart muscle. And those are the main events. Now the other thing that's happened that's pretty high tech I think, and saved my life with my third heart attack is clot busting drugs. Drugs that can be given in an emergency room setting, and I think someday may be in ambulances. Raena Morgan: Yeah. Dr. Owen Thompson: That literally dissolves the clot. We talked earlier about what a heart attack is. It's a clot in the coronary artery, and most strokes are clots in the arteries of our brain. They can put these drugs through your veins that dissolve the clots, make the clots go away, and