For 30 Years Angioplasty Has Given Heart Attack Patients A New Lease On Life, Could It Do the Same for Stroke? The first angioplasty very likely saved the life of then-38-year-old Dolf Bachmann. A German doctor working in Switzerland used a small tube with a tiny balloon on the end, called a balloon-catheter, to open Mr. Bachmann’s blocked heart artery. Now, according to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, angioplasty is performed on more than 1 million people a year in the United States with minimal complications giving patients, who would have previously had grim prognoses, the opportunity to return to normal life, sometimes within a couple days. And today, angioplasty’s catheter-based procedures and tools offer exciting potential for treating other serious health issues effectively and less invasively. One of the most promising areas of development is in the treatment of stroke (by clearing diseased carotid arteries, the vessels that supply blood to the brain). Catheter-based procedures are also being used to treat renal arteries that supply blood to the kidneys and arteries that provide oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood to the legs and feet. Even newer devices have been invented to close naturally occurring small holes between the upper left and right chambers of the heart that put some patients at a higher risk of stroke. To talk about the past and bright future of angioplasty as well as upcoming innovations in the procedure is Dr. Bonnie Weiner, President of the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions. Joining Dr. Weiner is Mr. Dolf Bachmann who on September 17, 1977, became the first person to ever receive angioplasty. More about Dr. Bonnie Weiner & Mr. Dolf Bachmann: Mr. Dolf Bachmann is the first patient to ever receive angioplasty. Dr. Bonnie Weiner is Professor of Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the Interim Chair of the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at St Vincent Hospital at Worcester Medical Center in Worcester, MA.