Wrist-to-heart access is better than through the groin

Just read that bleeding and other complications were significantly less when doctors access a person’s heart to insert a stent via the radial artery in the arm instead of through the femoral artery in the groin. Of course, this study included only people who were having ST-elevated myocardial infarctions (STEMI, as opposed to non-ST-elevated MIs). See here for the difference between STEMI and non-STEMI heart attacks.

All the 700-plus patients chosen for the study had to be eligible for either procedure. Eighty percent of them also received PCI (angioplasty). Every indicator except one was markedly better with the wrist-to-heart rather than groin-t0-heart approach.

Having experienced both types of access for other purposes, I’m happy to hear the wrist is better. It sure felt less invasive to me. And even though these results are preliminary and still need to be confirmed in a peer-reviewed journal, the shorter and less intimate path through the wrist just sounds more sensible and less uncomfortable. They said, though, that sometimes women may have smaller arteries and the wrist approach might not work.

The hope, of course, is that this approach can be adapted for other types of heart issues where our limited knowledge still has us profoundly invading the body to get answers or provide solutions. And I’m sure that—like the blossoming promises of stem cell technology and nanotechnology—we will one day soon be able to get those answers and provide those solutions in simpler, less brutal ways.