News Release: Emory Healthcare, Research, School of Medicine

Feb. 2,  2009

Emory Research Provides Hope During American Heart Month

News Article ImageKeep your heart healthy with the Make Every Day Count calendar from Emory Healthcare.

Researchers at the Emory Heart & Vascular Center are conducting groundbreaking research to discover the underlying sources of heart disease and develop therapies to treat or prevent them. These studies could play an important role in the way doctors all over the world predict, prevent and treat heart disease.

  • Emory cardiologists are testing a new approach to angioplasty with an innovative technique for restoring blood flow to the heart during a heart attack. Evidence suggests that the immediate restoration of blood flow that occurs during a balloon angioplasty procedure, while stopping ongoing damage related to lack of blood flow, might also damage the heart muscle by a process called “reperfusion injury." Habib Samady, MD, associate professor of medicine, Emory School of Medicine, and his team are testing a modification of angioplasty where the balloon is inflated and deflated several times in a precise, controlled way, allowing blood back into the heart gradually and thus reducing the amount of heart muscle that is permanently damaged from reperfusion injury. The study uses no expensive new drugs or devices, but carefully modifies a widespread procedure. The concept of reducing reperfusion injury by a gradual, stuttering, restoration of blood flow was initially described by Jakob Vinten-Johansen, professor of surgery, Emory School of Medicine. Drs. Samady and Vinten-Johansen are collaborating to test this simple - potentially beneficial - procedure to improve outcomes in patients suffering heart attack.
  • Nearly six million Americans are living with heart failure and more than half a million new cases are diagnosed each year in the United States. Emory physician Javed Butler, MD, MPH, associate professor of medicine, Emory School of Medicine and director of Heart Failure Research at Emory Healthcare, is trying to put a stop to the growing epidemic by leading the first comprehensive, integrated look at heart failure. For the first time, scientists are studying the medical, genetic, environmental and psychological/social aspects of this disease.  Butler and his team have taken a multi-disciplinary approach by creating The Atlanta Cardiomyopathy Consortium (TACC), a team of investigators from a variety of areas, including cardiology, cardiac surgery, nursing, epidemiology, genomics, vascular biology and more. Butler is leading TACC in a five-year study (through October 2011), designed to help better understand who will develop heart failure based on risk factors, blood tests, echocardiograms and genotyping. This research will likely impact the way physicians predict, prevent and treat heart failure throughout the world.
  • Emory University Hospital is using an innovative new medical device for the minimally invasive treatment of aortic aneurysms, dangerous bulges or weaknesses in the body's largest artery that can rupture with fatal consequences if left untreated. The stent, approved by the FDA last year, makes aneurysm repair accessible to an additional 25 percent of all patients with thoracic aortic aneurysms. Treatment for aortic aneurysms involves either invasive surgery in which the body is opened and major organs are temporarily moved to access the aorta or the minimally invasive approach with stents. Karthikeshwar Kasirajan, MD, assistant professor of surgery, Department of Surgery, Emory University School of Medicine is among the first few physicians in the United States and the first in Georgia to use the new device. Kasirajan also recommends that those who are eligible for Medicare take advantage of the “Welcome to Medicare” physical exam that is often overlooked by new enrollees. The free exam includes a screening for aortic aneurysms, which are almost always asymptomatic until they rupture. Kasirajan says the screening is the best method for early diagnosis of this deadly condition.
  • Emory University Hospital is one of nearly 20 hospitals nationwide, and the only site in Georgia, to study a non-surgical treatment option for patients with severe aortic stenosis, a narrowing of the aortic valve opening that affects tens of thousands of people each year. These Emory cardiologists, led by Peter Block, MD, professor of medicine, Emory School of Medicine, are performing percutaneous aortic valve replacement as part of a clinical trial, comparing this procedure with traditional, open-heart surgery or medical therapy in high-risk patients with aortic stenosis. It provides a new way for doctors to treat patients who are too ill or frail to endure the traditional surgical approach. In this new procedure, doctors create a small incision in the groin or chest wall and then feed a wire mesh valve through a catheter and place it where the new valve is needed. 

The Emory Heart & Vascular Center, is committed to providing clinically excellent cardiovascular patient care, promoting overall heart health, pioneering innovative clinical research, and training the best heart specialists in the world. Emory's Heart & Vascular Center is consistently recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top centers in the United States. In addition, many of Emory's cardiologists and surgeons consistently are recognized as Atlanta's Top Doctors by Atlanta Magazine and as America's Top Doctors.


The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service. Its components include schools of medicine, nursing, and public health; Yerkes National Primate Research Center; the Emory Winship Cancer Institute; and Emory Healthcare, the largest, most comprehensive health system in Georgia. The Woodruff Health Sciences Center has a $2.3 billion budget, 17,000 employees, 2,300 full-time and 1,900 affiliated faculty, 4,300 students and trainees, and a $4.9 billion economic impact on metro Atlanta.

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