Inspiring others through music is what 60-year-old Jack Bittner enjoys most as a guitar player and songwriter. He's still playing after a heart attack, thanks to an innovative procedure using the hand.
In late December, Jack and his band members were editing a CD featuring songs he wrote for worship services at his Telford church. While getting ready for bed, Jack felt an intense burning sensation in his chest. Fearing it was more than heartburn, he took two aspirins, and his wife drove him to the Emergency Room. By the time they arrived at Grand View Hospital, the pain had eased.
"A typical man, I was ready to go home, but my wife insisted I be evaluated," he said. It was a good thing he stayed. Tests revealed that a blocked artery had led to a heart attack.
To clear the blockage, interventional cardiologist Doyle Walton, MD, performed a transradial cardiac catheterization, used in fewer than 2 percent of catheterization procedures in the United States. Dr. Walton accessed Jack's wrist artery through a thin plastic tube placed using a small needle. He then guided another longer tube through Jack's arm and chest and on into his heart. Dr. Walton opened the blockage and placed stents (mesh tubes) in the artery to keep the vessel open.
"Patients are surprised to learn we can access heart arteries from the wrist," said Dr. Walton. "They are more familiar with the traditional femoral (through the groin) access." Grand View is able to offer this cutting-edge transradial option because its cardiac catheterization laboratory features the latest technology, and cardiologists and staff are trained in the procedure. Used in 80 percent of cardiac cath patients in China and 40 percent in Europe and Japan, the procedure is growing in popularity here due to its positive outcomes, including reduced risk for bleeding and other complications.
Dr. Walton noted, "Patients are able to sit up and walk around almost immediately after the procedure. They're more likely to be discharged sooner. In certain patients, such as those who have reduced circulation in their arms, the femoral artery remains the optimal access site."
Jack was happy to go home the day after his catheterization and quickly resume his life. In his job as a network security consultant, he was called on almost immediately to solve a problem. "I was surprised at how quickly I healed, with almost no pain," he said. Since his heart attack, Jack has participated in cardiac rehabilitation at Grand View and made lifestyle changes with exercise and diet. He is back to volunteering as music director at his church. The CD was produced, and he credits that music as a source of strength. Suitably, it is titled, Written on the Palm of My Hand.
source: Annual Report 2010