Treating Vascular Conditions
Cardiologists and vascular surgeons at Palmdale Regional Medical Center not only diagnose and treat conditions affecting the blood vessels, they use teaching, testing, technology and other tools to help prevent stroke and heart attack in our community. A number of factors, such as diet, can make arteries stiff and cause them to become clogged with fatty deposits. They can also weaken and burst. Doctors use many tools to restore healthy blood flow for patients. Often, this is a minimally invasive interventional procedure that can detect problems, unclog arteries and help them stay open.
Testing for Vascular Diseases
Venous disease occurs when valves in the veins become faulty. In peripheral artery disease (PAD), arteries become narrowed, reducing blood flow to the limbs. An abdominal aortic aneurysm is a bulge in the body’s main artery that goes from the heart to the abdomen. Testing for these conditions, among others, is conducted in the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory at Palmdale Regional Medical Center.
Ultrasound imaging provides a clear view of the patient’s blood vessels. Vascular and Interventional Surgeon, Denise Smith, MD, PhD, RPVI, who is on the medical staff at Palmdale Regional Medical Center, is a Registered Physician in Vascular Interpretation (RPVI), and is certified in interpreting the images.
“Ultrasound is key. We can look at the artery itself and the blood flowing through it,” says Dr. Smith. Testing is also performed using slim catheters advanced through a small incision in the groin. “This approach can take less time, speed up recovery and minimize interruptions in patients’ lives,” she says.
Treatment for a Variety of Disorders
Severely narrowed arteries or a short blockage can be treated through catheterization. In angioplasty, for example, a tiny balloon inserted into a blood vessel can be inflated to open a blockage. This procedure may be combined with the insertion of a stent, which is a small mesh tube inserted into the artery to help keep it open. Sometimes, only local anesthesia may required for these procedures, and recovery can be very quick.
Physicians may also perform minimally invasive surgery for conditions such as abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). Through a catheter-based system, physicians can repair the AAA using small incisions in the patient's groin to deliver a graft into the abdominal aorta. When veins are severely diseased, bypass surgery may be an option. This is a procedure in which a vein from another part of the patient's body, or a plastic substitute, is used to build a path around the blockage.
Making a Difference for Patients
Part of the cardiology program at Palmdale Regional Medical Center is educating patients about how they can improve their vascular health. Exercise, for example, is a basic part of having healthy blood vessels, so many doctors recommend programs as simple as walking 30 minutes, three times a week. Other recommendations include quitting smoking, checking cholesterol levels and keeping blood pressure under control.