You don't have to travel far to find some of the modern marvels in medicine. Doctors at the Avera Heart Hospital are using state of the art technology to improve procedures and patient well-being.
"I try to avoid hospitals and doctors like the plague!" Joked Dennis Davis.
Dennis doesn't shy away from his feelings, but his heart health was something he ignored.
"It took the family to say you're going to go get checked for an aneurysm so we went through a bunch of tests and one of them was the stroke screening at Plant Heart and they found the issue." Said Davis.
Dennis was diagnosed with peripheral artery disease or PAD, meaning the arteries in his legs have a tendency to clot and narrow.
"I'd walk to the mailbox and have pain in my legs!" Said Davis.
Over the past few months Dennis has had stents placed in his femoral artery to open it up and allow blood to flow. But his latest visit included a more advanced piece of equipment.
"These are the first few cases that are being done." Said Dr. J. Michael Bacharach, a cardiologist with North Central Heart Institute.
"And it's apparently a super stent!" Said Davis.
It looks just like your traditional stent, only this one is specially coated with a drug to ensure the artery stays open and the body doesn't unintentionally attack the stent.
"The drug coating works to prevent what we call the proliferative response or healing response that occurs so that you don't get this instant re narrowing to occur." Said Dr. Bacharach.
These new drug-eluting stents aren't replacing the previous methods but for certain patients they are providing better outcomes for the one for the long run.
"We initially started treating patients who had blockages in their legs with balloon angioplasty and there was some limits of that and it had limited effectiveness." Said Dr. Bacharach.
Then came metal stents but even those aren't guaranteed to last and patients could end up right back in the cath lab.
"If you can fix it the first time and get a long-lasting durable result that's clearly what we all want. That's what the patient wants and that's we want for the patient." Said Dr. Bacharach.
The procedure is still extremely non-invasive and after a short hospital stay Dennis is ready to be discharged.
"It blows my mind! It's pretty impressive!" Said Davis.
However, just because it's a simple fix doesn't mean patients like Dennis don't have any post-op work to do.
"Patients still have to do the right thing they still have to control their diabetes, they have to stop smoking, they have to walk, they still have to do those things; they can't get away from that but the primary benefit will be that we will get better results for longer periods of time with this stent." Said Dr. Bacharach.
A trip to the mailbox used to be quite the hike, but thanks to the stents Dennis has his sights set a little higher.
"I think I can go backpacking now, I used to do it a lot but I haven't in the last few years because this was creeping up on me but now I think to do that!" Said Davis.
These new stents don't constantly release medication but they prevent the artery wall from reacting to the stent during and after insertion. For more information about drug eluting stents just call 877-at-avera.