Claire S A Less Invasive Alternative to Triple Bypass Surgery

“His words gave me confidence. He was very clear and kind and I knew, after that first visit with Dr. Wasty that I would be all right.”

Claire Simmonds, 76, of Somerset, NJ, woke up in the middle of the night a few days before Thanksgiving with her heart beating wildly. She said she could feel her heart beating in her neck.

She was rushed to the emergency room where doctors told her she was in A FIB (atrial fibrillation), a serious condition where the heart cannot effectively pump blood to the body. An angiogram revealed several blocked arteries and Claire was shocked by the news because she had taken such good care of her heart ever since experiencing a heart attack 28 years ago. Claire had no outward signs of heart trouble.

This time around, her doctors found it impossible to perform the coronary angioplasty procedure because her blockages were in locations that were difficult to reach. When Claire woke up she was told she needed triple bypass open heart surgery.

Claire was not happy about the news, while awaiting surgery she reached out to her friend, Gail Baker, a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center.

“We fix impossible blockages at Newark Beth Israel all the time,” said Baker, and she arranged for Claire to see Dr. Najam Wasty, Director of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratories at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center.

During her appointment with Dr. Wasty Claire immediately felt at ease. “His words gave me confidence. He was very clear and kind and I knew, after that first visit with Dr. Wasty that I would be all right.”

Although, Dr. Wasty confirmed that open heart surgery and triple bypass were the preferred treatments for her type of heart blockage he also gave her another option—protected PCI.

Protected PCI is a non-surgical procedure that entails guiding a mini heart pump device called an Impella® through an artery in the leg and up to the heart. The mini heart pump temporarily assists with blood flow from the heart to the body and gives the interventional cardiologist the ability to monitor and control the blood flow and therefore more time to access difficult blockages during an angioplasty.

“Protected PCI is an alternative for a certain population of cardiac patients,” said Dr. Wasty. “It is less invasive than traditional open heart coronary bypass surgery and most patients are home in 24 hours.” Dr. Wasty is one of only of a handful of physicians in New Jersey who performs protected PCI procedures using this mini heart pump.

Dr. Wasty successfully performed Claire’s protected PCI angioplasty at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in December, 2017.

Today, Claire feels great and is back to her everyday activities which include “trotting” with her Italian Greyhound dog. She hopes to spread the word about this procedure so others can be helped. According to Claire, “Dr. Wasty and the cardiovascular team at Newark Beth Israel saved my life!”