Amazing Medicine

Janet Taylor, Marcola, Oregon

Radial Access Coronary Procedure

Sixty-one-year-old Janet Taylor is a self-professed “workaholic” who loves her job at the University of Oregon. She’s always been healthy and active and doesn’t drink or smoke. So, when she started feeling twinges around her heart that would come and go, she tried at first to dismiss them. When they didn’t stop, Janet started to consider whether something was really wrong.

Then, on an October day, as she was vacuuming her house, Janet suddenly felt as though an elephant were sitting on her chest. She called 9-1-1.

After arriving at the hospital, Janet received multiple tests and was kept overnight for close observation, her family at her side. EKG’s and CT scans revealed nothing out of the ordinary, but cardiologist David Saenger, MD, recommended a follow up stress test and angiogram. Janet wanted to go home, but her daughter was persistent and wouldn’t let her leave.

“She had a gut feeling something was wrong. She wanted to move forward with the angiogram right away,” Janet recalled.

Dr. Saenger offered Janet good news.

“He told me that I was a great candidate to have the procedure done through my wrist,” Janet said.

Physicians at Oregon Heart & Vascular Institute (OHVI) at Sacred Heart have performed thousands of cardiac procedures over the past decade using an artery in the patient’s wrist, with excellent outcomes. This type of procedure is known as a radial catheter procedure. Dr. Stephen Cook, an interventional cardiologist, founded the radial program in 2002 and has personally performed more than 3,000 radial procedures.

“Sacred Heart has been on the forefront in performing a significant number of procedures using radial access. As other cardiologists elsewhere start to learn this technique, we at OHVI are ahead of the curve. We’ve been doing this procedure, and doing it well, for many years,” Dr. Cook said.

Janet’s husband received a stent the traditional way, which involves placing a catheter into the femoral artery in the groin area. Femoral access patients must lie on their backs for several hours, which can be difficult and uncomfortable. By contrast, radial patients are able to move around almost immediately, so Janet was happy to have the option to try it.

During Janet’s angiogram, Dr. Saenger found an 80 percent blockage in her heart, so Dr. Cook was called in to place a stent to restore proper blood flow. Janet stayed in the hospital overnight and was able to go home the next day.

“Medicine has come so far, I can’t believe it,” she said. “My husband’s recovery was twice as long as mine. I would recommend having this procedure to anyone who is a candidate for it.”

After the procedure, Janet participated in Cardiac Rehabilitation at Oregon Heart & Vascular Institute. While she never thought she’d be a likely candidate for heart disease, she has a strong message to others who may feel the same way: “Listen to the signals your body sends to you,” she said. “If you think it can’t happen to you, think again.”

The cardiac team at OHVI has now made the process of having a radial diagnostic procedure even more comfortable for patients, creating a recovery lounge that features special recliner chairs, television and wireless Internet. For more information, visit the radial cath lab web site.

Learn more about coronary interventions

Learn more about heart screenings

Tell us your story