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April 18, 2002


EPIC 2002: Emory Presents Comprehensive Update on Cutting Edge Interventional Cardiology Medicine

Breakthroughs in interventional cardiology have resulted in rapidly evolving new technologies and therapies for fighting heart disease and repairing damaged hearts. But how do cardiologists, and other cardiac care health professionals learn first hand about these advances -- from coated stents used to keep arteries opened after angioplasty to innovative drug therapies and a new procedure that can close holes in the heart without surgery?

Many heart specialists from around the country seeking an update on these advances and other practical issues at the cutting edge of cardiovascular medicine will head to the Emory campus this week for EPIC 2002: State of the Art Coronary and Peripheral Intervention.

Now in its third decade, EPIC (Emory Practical Intervention Course) offers cardiology specialists demonstrations of coronary and peripheral vascular interventions broadcast live from both Emory University Hospital and the Mayo Clinic. The course, held at the Emory Conference Center Hotel in Atlanta April 18 – 20, also features an international faculty of world-renown cardiologists who will take part in lectures, debates and interactive case demonstrations.

"It is particularly appropriate that this course is offered at Emory, one of the birthplaces of interventional cardiology," notes Douglas Morris, M.D., Director of the Emory Heart Center, who will participate in both live case demonstrations and lectures.

Emory's role in the development of interventional cardiology began in l980, when pioneering cardiologist Andreas Gruentzig, M.D., joined the Emory medical faculty. In 1977, while living in Zurich, Switzerland, Dr. Gruentzig had inserted a catheter into a man's clogged coronary artery and inflated a tiny balloon, successfully opening a blockage and restoring blood flow to the patient's heart. At Emory, Gruentzig, worked with other cardiologists to vigorously research and refine this intervention, soon to be known as "angioplasty" that was destined to revolutionize cardiology.

Following Dr. Gruentzig's death in l985, The Andreas Gruentzig Cardiovascular Center of Emory University was created to continue cutting edge interventional cardiology research and to foster clinical excellence in the practice of interventional cardiology. Gruentzig Center interventional cardiologists have now performed over 35,000 coronary angioplasty procedures.

The Director of the Emory Interventional Service and course director of EPIC 2002, John S. Douglas, Jr., M.D., was a colleague of Dr. Gruentzig . Dr. Douglas worked to refine the technique of coronary angioplasty and also personally participated in another historic advance in interventional cardiology. In l987, Dr. Douglas inserted the first stent -- a tiny, metal tube-like object that helps keep arteries open after angioplasty -- in an American patient. Today, three-fourths of all patients undergoing angioplasties receive stents.

"Interventional cardiology is moving very quickly. Some of the most innovative procedures we'll discuss at EPIC 2002 may well be standard practice in a couple of years," Dr. Morris comments. "This is a very exciting time for everyone working in the field of cardiology -- and for our patients."

"EPIC 2002" is presented by the Emory University School of Medicine, the Andreas Gruentzig Cardiovascular Center and The Emory Heart Center.

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