Leg stents help reduce damaging effects of a heart attack

A device that changed the landscape of treating heart disease takes on blockages in the legs. A local expert takes us inside the cath lab and shows us how it works.

In the cath lab at Christ Medical Center, the team preps just as they would for a cardiac procedure. But this stent won’t travel north to the heart. Instead, interventional cardiologist Dr. Jaafer Golzar will place it in his patient’s leg.

Dr Jaafer Golzar, interventional cardiologist, Advocate Christ Medical Center: “This patient has a complete blockage in the blood vessel in her leg.”

The blockage is a result of plaque build-up in the leg vessels.

Dr Jaafer Golzar: “Peripheral arterial disease, or poor circulation to the legs, can cause pain in the legs when you walk. It can also result in ulcers in the legs, gangrene, and eventually amputation.”

The same patients at risk for problems in the heart or often at risk for blockages in the lower limbs.

Dr Jaafer Golzar: “One of the important things is tobacco use, and that’s one of the main things we see in patients, especially younger patients that end up with poor circulation, and gang green, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and family history of amputation or family history of poor circulation.”

A common way to treat a leg blockage is with a bypass – a procedure that requires a large incision and a lengthy hospital stay.

It looks like a stent that would be placed in the heart, only this model is much larger and more flexible. But the application is the same – it opens a blocked vessel, and doctors can deliver the device less-invasively through a catheter placed in the groin.

Dr Jaafer Golzar: “This is made out of a material called nitinol.”

And just like many heart stents, it’s coated with a drug that helps limit the formation of scar tissue.

Dr Jaafer Golzar: “We haven’t had that technology available to us in the legs until just recently.”

The new technology came just in time for 67-year-old Sarah Beaty. She’d already undergone two bypass procedures in her left leg when the pain returned.

Sarah Beaty: “At night my toes were cramped together, they would lock up on me. I couldn’t walk … I’d walk a block then I’d start having a pull in my muscle.”

This time around, she had a less-invasive option – and the added boost of the drug-coated stent.

Sarah Beaty: “My legs feel fine.”

Dr Jaafer Golzar: “Actually, interestingly enough, the most recent data that we have from the stent shows that out to four years, we have 41 percent reduction in scar tissue formation over the bare metal stent.”

If you’d like to learn more about Dr Golzar and the leg stent procedure at Christ Medical Center, call 1-800-3-ADVOCATE (1-800-323-8622).

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