With 1-in-4 deaths blamed on heart disease in the US according to the Centers for Disease Control, Medical City North Hills physicians are always looking for new and improved ways to treat and prevent the disease from taking its toll.

The process to open up blocked arteries – cardiac catheterization – has long since been known as a procedure requiring a catheter be inserted at the groin and run up the length of an artery until it reaches the heart. That catheter is guided by fluoroscopy to track its voyage along that long path to the coronary blockage.

But the long path has recently been taking a shortcut.

Most interventional cardiologists, including Matt Fay, MD, a physician on the medical staff at Medical City North Hills, say entry to the artery through the wrist – or radial catheterization – is now the preferred procedure for both patient and physician.

Benefits to the radial approach include less discomfort and an easier remedy in stopping any bleeding once the catheter is removed. The entry through the groin often had prolonged periods of bleeding after the procedure which also required longer periods of inactivity.

“My patients love it and prefer it,” Dr. Fay told a group of Northeast Tarrant Chamber of Commerce members recently. “The tool we use now is brand new. The old procedure (going through the groin) almost seems medieval.”