In this medical video learn about a new type of balloon angioplasty under study in North Carolina cuts through plaque to prevent re-blockage.
Read the full transcript »
Jennifer Matthews: A little rain won't keep Colonel L. R. Hughes from exercising. It took shortness of breath and tightness in his chest to do that. It was a blocked artery and it scared Hughes. His military medal kept his fear locked inside, so his family couldn't see it. L. R. Hughes: I have been scared a lots of times in the military but I don't think I let the troops know it. Jennifer Matthews: A balloon-like device is the traditional treatment to clear the blockage but it has it's problems. Dr. Joseph Babb: The problem we had with conventional angioplasty was a tendency to get excellent results immediately but to develop recurrent narrowing in follow up. Jennifer Matthews: So Dr. Joseph Babb used cutting edge technology. He used a balloon embedded with tiny blades that pop out when the balloon is inflated. The blades cut through scar tissue on the artery wall that contributes to the blockage. Dr. Joseph Babb: There are many tools that will give us very pretty results right now, the day I do it. It is the long-term result which really makes a difference to you the patient. Jennifer Matthews: The balloon may keep away scar tissue but it will take more than that to keep his heart healthy. L. R. Hughes: I am convinced that I will for the rest of my life stick to a regimen of exercise. Jennifer Matthews: New marching orders for this old colonel. This is Jennifer Matthews reporting.