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From the wrist to the heart: new angioplasty method is safe, effective

April 5, 2011
  • By Patrick J. Skerrett, Former Executive Editor, Harvard Health

About the Author

photo of Patrick J. Skerrett

Patrick J. Skerrett, Former Executive Editor, Harvard Health

Pat Skerrett is the editor of STAT's First Opinion and host of the First Opinion podcast. He is the former editor of the Harvard Health blog and former Executive Editor of Harvard Health Publishing. Before that, he was editor of … See Full Bio
View all posts by Patrick J. Skerrett


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ashby jones
January 27, 2012

I have a total calcium artery score of 537 with 380 of this in the LAD. I am 70, a workout nut for 45 years, BMI = 20; LDL = 76; HDL = 65, nonsmoker forever, drink a glass of wine a day. Had test done at UCLA Harbor in response to an ad, not on a doc’s recommendation. The results scared me. Am I a candidate for angioplasty? By the way I have never had a heart attack or angina. I do have ventricular tachycardia but am told it is in the “low third” – a run of 5-10 beats every three or fours days. I take a statin which I’ve been on for 10 years.

Thank you so much for your response.

Al from UK
August 2, 2011

I had a radial angioplasty procedure last week, and I was discharged the following day. There is some swelling in my right hand, four days after the procedure and some pain up the arm (requiring me to take painkillers), but otherwise I feel fine. It’s a little bit painful typing this comment, but I have to exercise my hand!

I needed morphine during the procedure as I experienced considerable pain at one point throughout my arm.

It was a difficult operation which took over two hours, as a major artery was completely occluded. Two stents were inserted. But there were no complications.

For your information, I had the operation in England, where I live (therefore I have no idea of the cost, due to our NHS system here).

Syl - Chicago
October 2, 2011


I’m glad you’re doing well! My mom is having the same procedure in about a week, and the information you provide was so helpful! I go to admit, I’m still nervous about the whole procedure. My mom has two stents, and now the artery is blocked again. This time the doctor perscribed a medicine to unclog the 95% clogged artery. Again, thank you for the informaton!

April 5, 2011

This technique is already use in Quebec (Canada) at Institut universitaire de pneumologie et cardiologie de Québec for a long time now (more than 10 years). It’s the most often technique used for angioplasty. The results are great and so much easier for patient. In most of the cases the patient got back home in the same day.

Johnny Palmer
April 5, 2011

Does this mean we can expect less people to be eating healthy and exercising now that surgery is easier and cheaper?

P.J. Skerrett
April 6, 2011

Johnny — That would be a cynic’s take on this development. I don’t think so — even if radial artery angioplasty is a bit easier for people than the more traditional approach, it still isn’t a walk in the park. There are risks, like damage to the nerves in the hand, just as there are for femoral access angioplasty. Keep exercising and eating healthful foods.

PJ Skerrett

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