Interventional cardiologist Dr. Clinton Malone, MD, FACC, sees cardiac patients of all life stages and backgrounds, though the ages have been climbing.
“We’ve had a lot of developments in recent years, like minimally invasive valve replacement procedures, that make it easier for higher risk patients to receive treatment,” he said. Dr. Malone is on the cardiac care team at Penrose-St. Francis Health Services, part of the Centura Health Heart and Vascular Network, the region’s leading provider of cardiovascular care.
Dr. Malone and his team started performing transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) procedures in 2014 and have since surpassed 100 procedures. “TAVRs allow us to insert valve replacements through the femoral artery in the groin, which is much less invasive than open heart surgery,” he said. “We’ve also done our first few mitral valve repairs through catheter-based techniques and are treating hypertrophic cardiomyopathy with known minimally invasive surgical techniques. I don’t know of any other place in town doing that.”
Developments in surgical sophistication in the last five to ten years are leading to more options for seniors battling heart disease. “Before, many elderly patients were forgotten,” Dr. Malone said. “Many of our patients who are in their nineties wouldn’t be able to handle open heart surgery, but we can now help them and they’re living longer, healthier lives.”
For Dr. Malone, treating senior patients is especially rewarding when he gets to hear their life stories. “It’s not often you get to talk to somebody who fought in World War II, but I see those guys and they have amazing stories,” he said. “I recently treated a 97-year-old gentleman who survived a heart attack. I then found out he had logged 10,000 combat hours as an Air Force pilot. It was fascinating and a real honor to get to play a role in extending his life.”
Regardless of age, Dr. Malone encouraged anyone experiencing symptoms of heart disease – chest pain, shortness of breath, numbness in arms or legs, fatigue – to see a doctor or call 9-1-1 immediately. “I say that because every few weeks, we lose someone because they have a heart attack and write the symptoms off as something less severe. They lay down on their couch and by the time it’s bad enough and they show up in the ER, it might be too late,” he said. Dr. Malone added that he is encouraged to see how heart disease awareness has spread in Colorado Springs, which he believes has saved lives in our community. “If you look at 2015, Penrose-St. Francis had the busiest cardiovascular surgery and interventional cardiology on the entire Front Range.”