Friday, June 6, 2008

Blood-sucking device saves heart patients

A vacuum-cleaner-like device that sucks blood clots out of the arteries of heart attack victims before angioplasty reduces the death rate in the following year by nearly half, researchers reported today. By physically removing clots, the device prevents loose fragments from breaking off, flowing through the bloodstream and blocking other vessels.

With the device developed by Medtronic Inc. of Minneapolis, the cardiac surgeon threads a thin wire guide into the body through the groin and all the way to the clot. This is also the first step in angioplasty, in which a balloon is inserted and inflated to compress the blockage. But before inserting the balloon, the surgeon inserts a thin tube and, using a syringe, sucks up as much of the clot as possible.

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