University of Illinois Professor Emeritus Alberto Nieto is forever grateful for Greg Babcock, MD, an interventional radiologist with Carle Heart & Vascular Institute.
“He literally saved my life,” Nieto said. “Someone should tell the world that doctors and their teams perform modern miracles at Carle.”
Six months ago, Nieto struggled to breathe while walking his foster greyhound, Snowball. Tests at Carle Foundation Hospital showed blood clots in his lungs, also called pulmonary embolism (PE).
Enter Interventional Radiology (IR), which uses images to guide tiny instruments through the circulatory system. IR can target a troubled artery, vein or cell without surgery. IR is one of many Carle solutions for patients with heart and vascular problems.
“We provide a minimally invasive approach to all of the organ systems except the brain and the heart,” Dr. Babcock said. “We offer every single interventional procedure that you can find in any other practice in the country – right here in east central Illinois.”
In Nieto’s case, Dr. Babcock made a small cut to reach the jugular vein. He inserted a catheter to go through Nieto’s body. Once the catheter reached Nieto’s lungs, Dr. Babcock found the blood clots and dissolved them.
The procedure took place the same morning Nieto struggled to breathe.
For Nieto, it meant instant relief.
“I went back into my room, and I could breathe just fine,” Nieto said. “I was in the hospital for a couple of days. I felt like a million bucks.”
A clot in his legs called deep vein thrombosis (DVT) caused Nieto’s PE. DVT most often occurs when people don’t move for a long time. In the days prior, Nieto spent a lot of time in bed, coping with an attack of fibromyalgia fatigue.
“People most at risk are those who are on long plane or car rides, and those who are in bed due to illness or back spasms. Blood is meant to have motion,” Dr. Babcock said. “If you have shortness of breath, seek medical help right away. Blood clots are dangerous.
“If left untreated, blood clots can strain the heart and kill.”
Nieto was back walking Snowball a few days after the procedure. Nieto and his wife, Nancy Benson-Nieto, fostered Snowball to get more exercise. The Nietos since adopted her into the family.
“I am amazed by how they can access any part of your body through your blood vessels,” Nieto said. “A few years ago, I would have probably had a cut that went down my chest. I have no signs from this procedure.
“It’s truly amazing. I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome.”
If you have concerns about your heart and vascular health and would like to learn more about reducing risk factors and possible treatment, please talk with your primary care provider or call Carle Heart & Vascular Institute at (217) 904-7000.