SAN FRANCISCO, Sept.
17 /PRNewswire/ -- Twenty-five years ago, a young physician,
Andreas Gruentzig, inserted a catheter into a 38-year-old man's
coronary artery, inflated a tiny balloon the doctor had fashioned
in his own kitchen, successfully opening a blockage and restoring
blood flow to a human heart. Today two million angioplasties are
performed worldwide each year.
Angioplasty has been shown to be the optimum emergency
treatment for 40% of heart attacks and recently was recommended
as the standard of care in the Journal of the American Medical Association,
according to Burt Cohen, creator of http://www.angioplasty.org/.
"Gruentzig built the first balloons with
Krazy Glue," says Cohen. "His home-made catheters were
sold out of a garage window. He and other pioneering physicians
were viewed as eccentrics. The history of angioplasty is one of
scientific vision and individual risk."
Gruentzig ushered in a new era in medicine: minimally
invasive, catheter-based treatment. The build-up of arterial plaque
that restricts blood flow occurs throughout the body. Treating arteries
with balloons, stents (tiny scaffolding placed within arteries)
and other miniature devices is fast replacing open surgery.
Actress Sharon Stone had a titanium coil placed,
via catheter, to stop bleeding in her brain. Vice President Cheney,
comedian Drew Carey, playwright Edward Albee, and talk show host
Larry King all had coronary angioplasties.
Catheters are being used to open blockages and
place devices in the kidneys, stomach, legs and neck: relieving
pain, improving quality of life, and lessening the chance of stroke.
"If you are one of the million-plus Americans who will suffer
a heart attack this year, and you're lucky, you'll receive an angioplasty
when you arrive at the emergency room. Not all hospitals are equipped
yet to offer emergency angioplasty but researchers recommend trying
to get to one that does," says Cohen.
All this resulted from the unprecedented idea,
initially dismissed by the medical establishment, that it is possible
to perform complex procedures within arteries via tiny catheters.
View videos of Dr. Gruentzig, his first patient
and others at http://www.angioplasty.org/, a nonprofit website with
information, discussion boards, current research and clinical trials.
CONTACT: Burt Cohen, Producer of Angioplasty.org,