New heart procedures at area hospital

Altoona, Blair County, Pa - Open heart surgery used to be the main treatment for people with blocked arteries in the heart. But now, doctors can help many of these patients by using stents to open the arteries and that technology has been advancing recently at UPMC Altoona.

Dr. George Jabbour, the director of the heart catheterization lab at UPMC Altoona says cardiologists perform about  4500 heart caths every year.

According to Dr. Jabbour 1500 to 2000 of patients who undergo a heart cath there need to have stents implanted or to undergo heart valve procedures or other treatments.

Jabbour says new technology at UPMC Altoona now allows interventional cardiologists to insert a tiny pump into the heart temporarily. That allows some of the most seriously  ill patients, including those in their 80's and beyond,  to be treated. 

"We've done several of those cases here in Altoona, already over the  last year, where patients have been rejected for surgery, would have been extremely risky to just put a stent in because they would not, really do well,  and through that process,  we have those patients go successfully through the stents and now they have and are leading a normal life," he explains.

He adds that the hospital is in the process of upgrading the catheterization lab to do more structural procedures on the heart.  


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