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Much Has Changed in Heart Disease Treatment During Cheney’s Battle

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Dick Cheney

CBS St. Louis (con't)

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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - Former Vice President Dick Cheney has written a new book with his doctors about his long battle with heart disease, claiming he was very worried about his health while in the office.

It has been a 35-year struggle for the former VP from his first of five heart attacks to his latest heart transplant. Over that time period, Saint Louis University Hospital cardiology chief Dr. Michael Lim says a lot has changed in heart disease treatment, including the ability of doctors to do more to save damaged heart muscle.

“The estimate is people in this country who have heart attacks have about a four percent mortality rate while they’re hospitalized,” Lim explains. “In the course of 20 years we’ve brought it down from 30 percent to about four percent. That’s a pretty major advance.”

Treatments for heart attack patients have changed a great deal in those three decades. At the time of Cheney’s first heart attack, no treatment was available for most patients. Bypass surgeries later became standard but today medication therapy is the main approach.

Lim says other major advances in the past 30 years include coronary care units, defibrillators in hospitals, treating coronary artery disease with medical therapy, better pacemakers, and catheter ablation. He says the future of heart care lies now in hybrid procedures which combine minimally-invasive coronary surgery with catheter-based intervention.

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