Heart patient recovers after new procedure

March 15, 2005 at 11:25 AM
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DETROIT, March 15 (UPI) -- A 76-year-old Michigan man is back at work less than a week after receiving an artificial heart valve through a vein in his leg, the New York Times reports.

In the aortic valve implantation procedure done last Thursday at the William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, doctors fed the valve through a vein in the left leg of Fernando Giangrande, instead of opening his chest and stopping his heart, the Times said.

Giangrande left the hospital Sunday and was back at work Monday customizing vintage cars at his Ford dealership.

Replacement of the valve through open-heart surgery normally requires a week in the hospital and a longer total recovery time, assuming the patient is strong enough to have the surgery in the first place.

Experts say the procedure could eventually extend the lives of many people who are too frail or ill to endure open-heart surgery.

Giangrande said two years earlier, surgeons had told him there was nothing they could safely do to counter the progression of his heart disease.

Other experts, however, warn even if the new technique is mastered, the heart repairs may not last as long as those achieved through conventional surgery.

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