Tiny Vacuum Sucks Clots From Heart
New Heart Attack Treatment Vacuums Blood Clots From Blocked Arteries
WebMD News Archive
Thrombus Aspiration: Treatment Wave of the Future continued...
This isn't a giant breakthrough, but it could represent a significant
improvement in the treatment of heart attack, says George W. Vetrovec MD,
chairman of the division of cardiology and director of the adult cardiac
catheterization laboratory at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond.
Vetrovec's editorial accompanies the Zijlstra team's report in the Feb. 7 issue
of The New England Journal of Medicine.
"What you are really trying to do here is to limit damage to the heart
muscle by preventing clots from blocking the small vessels beyond the major
obstruction," Vetrovec tells WebMD. "Every bit of heart muscle you save
will help -- and in the heart attack setting, that is very important. You just
reduce the amount of debris going downstream and therefore have better
Zijlstra says that the technique is not hard for doctors to learn. He
expects it to become a routine part of medical practice -- although Vetrovec
says it remains to be seen whether doctors will be able to perform the
procedure on a routine basis. It appears to be cost effective. And one-year
follow-up data on the patients in the study suggest a promising trend toward
"Thrombus aspiration will be here to stay," Zijlstra says. "It
will be very important for all patients with acute heart attacks. We are now
trying to see if other categories of patients will benefit, such as those with
unstable angina and other forms of coronary artery disease in which we know
blood clots play a role."