Innovative heart care puts the spring back in Ruth Garrett’s step

Ruth Garrett is tap dancing with her friends again after an innovative heart procedure at Washington Adventist Hospital.

Ruth Garrett is tap dancing with her friends again after an innovative heart procedure at Washington Adventist Hospital.

As an active 85-year-old who enjoyed tap dancing and singing at her local senior center, Ruth Garrett of Clarksburg recognized the serious nature of heart problem symptoms that appeared last summer.

“I had heaviness in my chest—it felt like a weight,” Garrett says. “And I was having trouble breathing. I could only walk a few feet before I had to sit down and catch my breath.”

Three years earlier, Garrett experienced complications during a heart procedure at a hospital outside Maryland. In the years that followed, Garrett continued to take medication to help keep her heart functioning properly.

But then came summer 2011. Medication wasn’t helping, and Garrett knew she needed more serious attention.

Discovering a New Option

After talking to her primary care doctor about her symptoms, Garrett was referred to Michael Chen, M.D., interventional cardiologist at Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park.

“When I met with Ruth, it was clear that her blood vessels weren’t getting her heart the blood and oxygen it needed,” Dr. Chen says. “We discussed an interventional procedure to go in and open up her blocked arteries, and because of the complications she suffered in the past, we would get to her heart through the artery in her wrist rather than her groin.”

Going through the wrist, referred to as a transradial approach, can reduce the risk of complications and improve patient results. Cardiologists at Washington Adventist Hospital are leaders in the region for transradial catheterizations.

In Good Hands

“When I heard they could go in through my wrist, I was relieved because I knew this was my chance to get my life back,” Garrett says. “My primary care doctor said Dr. Chen was brilliant, so I trusted that my heart was in the best hands.”

Adds Dr. Chen: “Patients prefer the transradial approach because it enables them to be mobile much faster, they tend to have less overall discomfort, there’s a lower risk of complications and they’ll have a shorter recovery time. In Ruth’s case, she was able to go home the day after her procedure.”

Garrett says the results of her procedure were felt immediately. “It was incredible. The weight was gone. I could breathe easier. I had energy,” she says. “I’m back to tap dancing with my friends and I feel like I’m 35 again! Dr. Chen gave me a new life.”