When Dr. William Meengs first performed a balloon catheterization procedure on a patient in Petoskey back in the late 1970’s, he introduced the region to a technology that would quickly become a mainstay of cardiac treatment, and a technology that would evolve into the more advanced forms of interventional cardiology that we see today.

Along the way, Meengs’s reputation as an interventional cardiologist attracted other skilled physicians to his team at Northern Michigan Regional Hospital, and they shared Meengs’s view that the surest way to stay on the leading edge of the technology was to participate in respected international research projects that gave them access to the newest products and techniques being developed for interventional cardiology.

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This commitment to research remains an integral philosophy within the interventional cardiology team. Currently, the team’s key area of research focuses on the evolution of stents—miniature wire mesh tubes inserted into blood vessels to open up areas clogged by plaque. For many patients, the stents keep blood vessels open for years. Physicians have been installing stents for some time now, but innovation continues. Researchers have found that women need smaller stents to be most effective, so NMRH physicians are working with the new sizes of stents being developed for women. Stents are also being developed that can be installed where blood vessels bifurcate, that is, branch to form a Y—NMRH physicians are reporting results on that technology. And stent manufacturers are developing longer stents to avoid using a series of multiple stents in blood vessels that have extended portions of plaque build-up—NMRH interventional cardiologists are on the front edge of that technology as well.

“We’re very proud of the fact that we’ve been able to cluster a group of interventional cardiologists who understand the need to participate in the next wave of what will produce positive outcomes in patients with cardiovascular problems,” says James Flickema, senior director for professional services at NMRH. northernhealth.org, 231-487-4000.

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