Largo Medical Center is the first hospital in Pinellas County to offer a new minimally-invasive procedure to treat peripheral arterial disease (PAD) in the upper leg, a serious and common condition associated with an increased risk for heart attack and stroke. Recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), drug-coated balloons are a new type of medical device used to treat PAD in the upper legs once medical management has failed. The first procedure at Largo Medical Center was performed on 80 year old Largo resident, Chris Wagner by Merrill Krolick, DO, Interventional Cardiologist on March 2nd.
“These drug-coated balloons are designed to help restore blood flow by reopening blocked arteries,” said Merrill Krolick, DO, Cardiologist at Largo Medical Center. “Studies show delivering a medication to the artery wall, as is done with these balloons, helps keep the artery open longer than many of the other procedures and therapies available today.”
Mr. Wagner says he’s been battling PAD in his right leg for about 9 years. He says those who are in the same situation as him should consider this procedure. “Now I am in no pain,” said Wagner. “I can walk up and down 17 stairs with no problem and I don’t have stop.”
During the procedure, an inflated balloon pushes plaque away to create a channel for blood flow and the medication on the balloon surface is absorbed into the artery wall. The balloon is then removed with only the medication left behind. The procedure is usually done as an outpatient. Wagner says he was in at 6 a.m. and out by 5 p.m. the same day.
“With Largo Medical Center being an academic medical hospital, we are excited to be able to offer the physician expertise behind these kinds of innovations in the field of healthcare for patients like Mr. Wagner,” said Anthony Degina, Chief Executive Officer at Largo Medical Center.
Affecting an estimated eight to 12 million people in the United States, PAD is a debilitating disease occurring when arteries become narrowed or blocked by plaque build-up, restricting blood flow. PAD commonly affects arteries in the upper legs and can cause recurrent and painful muscle cramping in the thigh and/or upper calf. The pain can be described as dull, causing a heaviness or tightness in the muscles, but often will stop when the person is at rest. Experiencing pain, even while at rest or while sleeping, is a sign of a more severe disease.