Welcome to The Activated Patient Blog

Banksy Heart Doctor

Banksy photo by Eva Blue.

Our Activated Patient Blog and Twitter feed provide up-to-the minute information for patients making decisions about heart disease treatment, and seeking to control their disease, maximize their health, and live active, engaged lives.

This blog is a companion to the many in-depth articles and tools for patients and their families posted in the Angioplasty.Org Patient Center.

Blog topics will range from evaluating the pros and cons of treatments and breaking news on clinical trials, to monitoring wellness research and sharing strategies for life-style change.

There is no “one size fits all” treatment for coronary artery disease. In November 2012, seven leading professional organizations, including the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, announced new Guidelines for treating stable patients with blocked arteries, saying:

“The writing committee stresses the need to inform patients and engage them in their own care, pointing to the value of shared decision making, which also considers personal preferences… patients with stable symptoms should have the final say in how their chest pain is treated…Patient preference is very important in terms of directing care, so the answer may not be the same for every patient ….to provide quality care, we need to consistently devote time to each patient to educate them…”

Angioplasty.Org has been online for 16 years, devoted to advocating for patient participation in decision-making and providing millions of patients with in-depth medical information. We are excited to see the cardiology community acknowledging the importance of patient participation in decision-making. Information is power and our mission is to inform and empower patients to take charge of their health, work as peers with their doctors, and make choices that are right for them.

Here is the story of who we are….

A Website for Cardiologists Launches in 1997…
When Burt Cohen and I launched Angioplasty.Org in 1997, he’d been teaching cardiologists about less invasive alternatives to open heart surgery since the early 1980’s, when the concept of putting a balloon inside a heart to open up a blocked artery was first brought to the U.S. by Dr. Andreas Gruentzig. As medical communications professionals, we wanted to make sure these new technologies and emerging data were disseminated, challenged, examined and understood by as many researchers and physicians as possible.

Millions of Patients Log On…
We built a site for cardiologists, but we didn’t expect tens of thousands of heart patients to log on. Immediately after our website was launched, we began hearing from individuals with coronary artery disease who were reading clinical studies, researching doctors, asking questions about their treatment options, and telling us their personal stories. We heard from patients who had suffered permanent nerve damage after angiograms, as well as patients who six months earlier couldn’t walk without excruciating pain, and were now able to run in marathons after getting a stent. We decided to never require registration to view our “for doctors” site, never restrict public access to technical medical information, and to create a Cardiology Patients Forum where we would personally respond to patients’ questions and try to get them answers. Most importantly, we committed to advocating for patients with the leading cardiologists and researchers that we were talking to, interviewing and publishing.

Balloons, Stents, and the Internet, Explode…
Interventional cardiology — non-surgical treatment of vascular disease using catheters — is a complex, rapidly changing and controversial field of medicine that, for better or worse, grew faster than any other field of medicine in history. In the 16 years since we began this site, we have reached literally millions of patients, while remaining a grass-roots endeavor that is funded by education grants. And, we have earned a high level of respect in the professional cardiology community for our authoritative medical reporting and independent perspective: we focus all of our work on making available current, in-depth, accurate, and thoughtful information about difficult choices in heart disease treatment and management.

This Time, it’s Personal, a Commitment to Patients…
As an educator, and as the daughter of someone who underwent two bypass surgeries and multiple angioplasty procedures during 35 years of living with cardiovascular disease, I am committed to:
1) Advocating within the medical community for putting the patient’s perspective and the patient’s voice front and center. That means fighting for constant improvements in doctor-patient communication and in the safety, the comfort and the results of heart disease treatment.
2) Supporting patients in their right to educate themselves, partner with their doctors, gain access to the best treatment, and make the healthcare choices that are right for them as unique individuals.

Tweet to us @cardiopatient.

Join the Conversation
We want to share with patients what we learn in our daily discussions with leading interventional cardiologists.

We want to fuel the public conversation about advancing patient empowerment and creating a more responsive, respectful and open healthcare system.

Our focus will be on news and commentary about how patients with coronary artery disease can maximize their health and gain access to the best treatments.

We hope you will join the conversation, read and comment on this blog, subscribe to our Twitter feed, “like” us, dislike us and engage with us in our active, opinionated, courageous community of independent-minded individuals with heart disease, their families, and their physicians.

Deborah Shaw, Angioplasty.Org Patient Education Editor


Filed under Angioplasty.Org, ePatients, History, Physician Organizations, Treatment Guidelines

10 Responses to Welcome to The Activated Patient Blog


    Main left artery blocks can be treated with PTCA with stents??

    • Editor

      Hi Pratap. For questions like this, check out our main web site Angioplasty.Org. Treating left main blockages with stents (PCI) is certainly done, but it’s really a question you need to discuss with your cardiologist.

  2. Gachi

    I am a 64 female, with no symptoms of heart disease, but overobese and HBP. My cardiologist has recommended a heart catherization of the left and right. I am very scared of the procedures specially that I am allergic to contrast and Iodine. Should I do this test? Should I ask for a noninvasive test? Please respond. I had a nuclear stress test and a angiocardiogram which showed something abnormal. But they could not say what it is. The Cardiologist said he will find out by the catherization. Thank you

    • Angioplasty.Org Staff

      Hi Gachi. We can’t and don’t give medical advice, but you should definitely discuss these concerns in detail with your doctor and/or cardiologist before your catheterization. Especially your allergy to contrast. There are techniques that he/she can use to minimize these issues, if known about in advance.

      The only non-invasive test that might show something specific (or rule out coronary artery disease) is a Cardiac CT — it’s only a few minutes in duration, but it does involve an IV with contrast. However, the fact that your nuclear stress test was positive for ischemia, plus your risk factors (weight and high BP), is why your cardiologist is recommending a catheterization. You should also discuss before your catheterization that if a blockage is found, would your cardiologist be recommending doing an intervention (angioplasty and stent) in the same session, something called “Ad Hoc PCI?”

      Finally, since obesity is an issue, doing the cath via the radial or wrist approach might be a better option than the femoral (groin) approach. Cardiologists who practice the transradial approach find it particularly helpful in obese patients. Your cardiologist may or may not be trained in this technique. If not perhaps he has a colleague who is.

      Regarding these issues, here are some articles on Angioplasty.Org that we would recommend checking out:

      • Patient Guide to Heart Tests
      • Five Crucial Questions to Ask Your Doctor About New Heart Disease Treatments
      • How to Talk to Your Physician
      • Transradial Angioplasty
      • Ad Hoc Angioplasty: A Consensus Update from SCAI
    • Michael Miller

      I have had Cardiac caths through both the wrist (recently) and the groin (4 years ago). There are certainly pros and cons to both, but I believe the wrist was a bit easier on my body, and the recovery seems a bit quicker….

      I am not sure why, but my first (groin) cath, I was not really fully concious and have NO memory of the procedure itself. In my recent procedure (wrist) I was fully concious and was able to discuss findings and potential treatments with the doctor.

      For some people who become very fearful and anxious about the process, it may be asking a lot to be wide awake and able to participate. For me, it was certainly the very best process…. Of course, I had some great doctors, nurses, techs and staff at the Tampa FL VAMC, so that made it all much better all the way around….

      • Burt

        Michael – Thanks for sharing your experience. The wrist (transradial) approach has been gaining traction in the United States. A decade ago less than 2% of cases were done this way; today it’s more like 25%. In most other countries, transradial accounts for 50% and higher. Of course averages are misleading because, if you go to a cardiologist who practices radial, you’ll probably find the he/she does 80-90% of their cases via the wrist. Dr. Ferdinand Kiemeneij of The Netherlands was the first to perform an intervention via the wrist. In our two-part interview with him, he explains: “Actually the whole story is about increasing patient happiness…. I think this technique has many advantages to the patient…from patient comfort, the early ambulation, to increased safety, I think that’s really demonstrated, that’s really proven, there are less major bleeding complications.”

    • This blog is so meaningful…. It helps very much. Thank you.

    • Nice blog.. It helps everyone. Thank you for this.

    • I recommend the wrist cath as I have had both procedures: groin and wrist. The wrist cath is much less invasive and requires less down time after procedure. When the groin cath was performed, they inserted a plug which had to be checked frequently whereas after the wrist cath I was able to get dressed and walk out shortly after procedure was done.

    • Meaningful Blog. Thanks you for sharing and letting us know this .

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