This medical video looks at the technology that is making heart transplants safer.
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Jennifer Matthews: Curt Jones hadn't even reached his 50 birthday, but he was already growing tired of life. Curt Jones: Going up stairs was like really hard. You know, I could walk, but everything was an effort. Jennifer Matthews: He had Cardiomyopathy, his heart was weak and dangerously enlarged. It was tough keeping up with his wife Devereaux and little Valentino. Curt Jones: To be such an old man at such a young age, it hurt my ego...my manlihood. Jennifer Matthews: Cardiologist Jon Kobashigawa says heart transplants can help people with Curt's condition, but there are risks. 50 percent will develop deadly blockages. Dr. Jon Kobashigawa: Since heart transplant patients do not have nerves connected from their body to the heart, they don't have any symptoms of chest discomfort if they should develop blockages. Jennifer Matthews: A recent study shows the risk of death or a heart attack is three-times higher in these patients. Now, intravascular ultrasound can produce sonar images to identify who's likely to develop blockages. Dr. Jon Kobashigawa: It's similar to sonar from submarines, or echoes from bats or whales or dolphins. Jennifer Matthews: Here's a healthy vessel. Here's one with thick walls. If the vessels are thick, the patient receives a drug to slow the progression. After Curt's transplant, the images showed his new vessels are free and clear. Curt Jones: When you have a healthy heart, and you had a sick one before, you tend to look at life differently. Jennifer Matthews: Now, he and his family can breeze through their walks and their lives a lot easier. This is Jennifer Matthews reporting.