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BLAIRSVILLE -- Antiques dealer Maureen Magoon says she has a lot to be thankful for these days. Although she has heart disease, it was discovered in l999 by her Blairsville physician, Richard Sarrell, MD, and treated in time to prevent a heart attack. And when she was recently found to have another artery partially blocked by atherosclerotic plaque, Mrs. Magoon received a new treatment that is being hailed as a major breakthrough in the treatment of heart disease -- a drug eluting stent just approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
A native of England, Mrs. Magoon, 69, says she loves living in the north Georgia mountains where she's made her home in Blairsville for 12 years. She recalls her surprise when she visited Dr. Sarrell because of a racing heart and learned she had heart disease. "I was prescribed medication and a diet and felt much better for a while," she says. "Then I had more symptoms including tightness in my chest and pain in my left arm."
Dr. Sarrell referred Mrs. Magoon to cardiologist Christopher U. Cates, MD, Medical Director of the Emory Heart Center at Hiawassee. Dr. Cates performed angioplasty on Mrs. Magoon in 2001. During angioplasty, which is the most commonly used procedure in the U.S. to treat potentially life-threatening coronary blockages, a balloon-tipped catheter is used to push aside atherosclerotic plaques in arteries. Once vessels are widened, adequate blood flow is returned and stents (tiny mesh wire tubes) are frequently used to prop arteries open.
However, restenosis (the reclogging of arteries) has proven to be a frequent problem following angioplasty and stenting. "That's what happened to Mrs. Magoon," notes Dr. Cates. "So I put in another stent -- this time using a special radiation and laser treatment to try to prevent further restenosis."
This high tech approach worked. However, earlier this year it was discovered that Mrs. Magoon needed another stent in another artery. This time, however, she was a candidate for the Cordis Corporation's newly FDA approved drug-eluting CYPHER™ stent. In early May, at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, she became the first north Georgia woman to receive the device, which is being called a major weapon in the war on heart disease.
"The drug-eluting stents release the drug sirolimus and they have been shown to greatly reduce the risk of restenosis," says Dr. Cates, who has nearly 15 years of experience serving the people of North Georgia and western North Carolina. "We believe this is a true breakthrough in the treatment of occluded coronary arteries and we hope to it will virtually eliminate restenosis as a problem."
Maureen Magoon says she's feeling good these days. "I'm so glad that my heart disease was found and treated before I had a heart attack. I have no damage to my heart because it was caught in time," she says. "I'm very thankful and excited to receive the new drug-eluting stent and I'm very hopeful it will do the job for me --- and so are my doctors."
Dr. Cates see patients at the Emory Heart Center locations in Hiawassee and Atlanta. Patients and physicians who would like to learn more about drug-eluting stents can contact the Emory Heart Center at Hiawassee, in Blairsville at the Union General Hospital, and in Atlanta. Call 706-896-7662 for more information.