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    Sutter Heart & Vascular Institute

    Bruce - Tiny Device, Big Change

    Bruce -
    Bruce - Tiny Device, Big Change

    "Interesting," said Bruce. That was the only word he could come up with as he reclined in the cath lab and watched the screen that showed his heart being poked with a device while the doctor repaired two damaged vessels.

    Seventy-one-year-old Bruce is the first patient in the Western United States to undergo an invasive cath lab procedure using the Impella, a tiny machine used to help the heart function. It was inserted into his heart via a catheter "threaded" from the groin area. Taking on some of the heart's workload while undergoing intervention, the device relieved blood from the left ventricle while Bruce's doctor successfully revascularized two vessels.

    Dr. David Roberts, M.D., Bruce's cardiologist, is one of Sutter Medical Center's most active physicians in the field of cardiac research. As medical director of the Sutter Heart & Vascular Institute , Dr. Roberts places a high priority on making new technologies available to his patients.

    Having had a five-way bypass in 1991, Bruce is no stranger to cardiac problems. "My heart would start pounding when I'd walk around the room," he said. "And then Dr. Roberts used this new thing on me. Now, I do what I want and I don't get as tired."

    A few months ago, Bruce went to see his doctor in Chico -- not too far from his home in Orland, Calif. After his doctor evaluated his condition, he sent Bruce by air ambulance to Sacramento, where he was admitted to the cardiac intensive care unit at Sutter Medical Center. That's when Bruce met Dr. Roberts, who diagnosed him with atherosclerotic coronary artery disease and described this new technology as a treatment option. Bruce said he'd be up for it.

    "I didn't need any convincing," he said. "They know what they're doing at Sutter, so I let them do it."

    Two days after his procedure, Bruce went back to his home in Orland, where he lives with his wife, Eleonor. Both retired, they spend a lot of time with their five grown children, 16 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Even though Bruce feels much stronger, Eleonor keeps him in check.

    "I wanted to rototill the garden yesterday," he said. "But Eleonor made me supervise instead," he said, laughing. "That's OK. I've been given a second chance and I'm not going to push it."


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