In 2004, Dr. Paul A. Jones, Mercy's chief of cardiovascular services, was the first in Illinois to perform a carotid stenting procedure using stents approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This non-surgical treatment of blocked carotid (neck) arteries revolutionized stroke care and prevention, and today Mercy performs more carotid stent procedures than any other hospital in Illinois.

From its earliest days, Mercy's Heart & Vascular Center has been committed to high-quality, patient-focused care, and it consistently ranks among the best in the country for patient outcomes. Driven by this culture of excellence, Mercy's physicians continually pursue the latest, most sophisticated techniques and treatments, leading to breakthroughs like the carotid stenting procedure, and many others over the years.

A revolutionary approach
The carotid arteries run along either side of the neck and are the main source of blood to the brain. If one of the carotid arteries becomes blocked, blood flow to the brain is reduced or stopped and a stroke can occur. In the past, surgery to remove the blockage was the only treatment option. Some high-risk patients were not good candidates for surgery, however, and so faced a high likelihood of stroke.

The non-surgical stent procedure first performed by Dr. Jones relies on small, steel-mesh tubes to open the artery. First, physicians make a small puncture in the groin and thread a catheter up into the blocked artery. Once in place, a tiny balloon tip is inflated to dilate the artery. The stent is then inserted to support the artery walls and keep the artery clear. Unlike traditional carotid artery surgery, the procedure requires no neck incisions or general anesthesia, reducing the risk of complications and recovery time.

A longtime leader
Pioneered by Mercy, carotid stenting is now the standard of care when treating stroke patients. It's one of several 'firsts' achieved by Dr. Jones and the Heart & Vascular Center. In 2005, Dr. Jones performed the first percutaneous thoracic aortic aneurysm (TAA) stent-graft procedure in Illinois. A TAA is a life-threatening condition that develops in part of the aorta, the main blood vessel to the heart. Dr. Jones was also the first physician in Illinois to perform coronary artery stenting through a tiny artery in the wrist, and the first to non-surgically repair aneurysms in the arteries of the pelvis with a minimally invasive stent-graft technique.

Such groundbreaking work, along with exceptional outcomes in heart attack, heart failure, angioplasty and bypass surgery, led to the hospital being named one of the Nation's 100 Top Cardiovascular Hospitals by Thomson Healthcare. The 100 Top Hospitals identifies hospitals that have achieved the highest national scores, or benchmarks, on important measures of cardiovascular care.

Mercy's commitment to high-quality heart and vascular care was also recognized by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois , which recently designated Mercy as a Blue Distinction Center for Cardiac Care* [link to]. The designation is awarded only to institutions that meet stringent quality standards and achieve better overall outcomes for cardiac patients.

From pioneering firsts through tomorrow's advances, Mercy has established itself as Chicago's trusted and preferred choice for heart and vascular care. Learn more about Mercy's Heart & Vascular Program and primary Stroke Center

*Designation as Blue Distinction Centers means these facilities' overall experience and aggregate data met objective criteria established in collaboration with expert clinicians' and leading professional organizations' recommendations. Individual outcomes may vary. To find out which services are covered under your policy at any facilities, please call your local Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield Plan.