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You're never too old for an Angioplasty
Newswise, May 31, 2011-- Loyola University
Health System interventional cardiologist
Dr. Ferdinand Leya says there's no upper age
limit for performing balloon angioplasties.
Agnes Komperda, for example, underwent an
angioplasty when she was 96, and just
celebrated her 100th birthday.
"She came out with flying colors," said her
daughter, Sandra Zarembski. "To me, it was
In an angioplasty, an interventional
cardiologist guides a catheter (thin tube)
through blood vessels to the site of a
blocked artery in the heart. The
cardiologist then inflates a small balloon
at the end of the catheter to reopen the
artery, and typically places a stent to keep
the artery open.
The risks of the procedure, including heart
attack, stroke, blood vessel damage and
kidney damage, are significantly higher in
patients older than 75. But if a very old
patient is in otherwise good health, the
risks can be kept to acceptable levels,
especially if the cardiologist has extensive
experience, Leya said.
Leya and most other interventional
cardiologists at Loyola University Hospital
each perform more than 200 procedures per
year, which places them among the
highest-volume operators in the country.
Before undergoing her angioplasty, Agnes
experienced a life-threatening heart attack
caused by a severely blocked coronary
artery. "We wanted her to stay alive, so we
thought, 'Let's do it,'" her daughter said.
Agnes' cardiologist, Dr. Ivan Pacold of
Loyola University Health System, referred
her to Leya for an angioplasty and two
stents. "Dr. Pacold was always so gentle and
kind to my mother," Zarembski said. "He even
spoke some Polish to her."
Pacold, in turn, said Agnes "has been one of
my favorite patients."
Zarembski said her mother has experienced no
significant heart problems since her
angioplasty. She can still walk around her
apartment, and in summer she takes walks
Agnes turned 100 on May 18th, and her family
threw a big party for her on May 22nd.
She enjoys going to church, singing and
being outdoors. She continued to garden
until she was 96 years old and now enjoys
watching the birds.
Her primary care physician is Dr. Josephine
Dlugopolski-Gach of Loyola University Health
"Dr. Dlugopolski is such a wonderful
doctor," Zarembski said. "She is encouraging
to all of us as we care for our mother. She
never gives up and we know we can trust her
to give our Mom the best care,” Zarembski
Dlugopolski, in turn, said she wishes
everyone had a family like Agnes’ family.
"They are so concerned about her and make
her a priority," Dlugopolski said. "Agnes is
such a warm person and almost always has a
smile on her face."