New Leg Stent Gets Ellen Back in the Race


DALLAS. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — One in every 20 Americans over the age of 50 experiences peripheral artery disease, clogged arteries, usually in the legs, which can cause extreme pain and increase the risk for heart attack and stroke. Now, with a new approach to leg stents, some patients not only walk again, they can run.

Seventy-three-year old Ellen Bergami is running competitively again, but a year ago she experienced so much pain in her leg that she was facing amputation.

“I cannot tell you how much pain you are in cause it’s like a tourniquet on your leg shutting down and you’re getting no blood,” detailed Bergami.

Bergami was experiencing an acute form of peripheral artery disease that was shutting down the blood flow to her right leg.  After a series of failed procedures, she was still in constant pain and addicted to fentanyl.

Mirza Baig, M.D., a vascular surgeon at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center in Irving, Texas, told Ivanhoe, “I think that she was at a point where she had so much pain in her foot that I think if she wanted, or required an amputation, she would have been relieved.” (Read Full Interview)

Doctors replaced Bergami’s old metal stents with fabric stents. Drug-coated balloons at the ends keep the femoral artery open. These new stents have lasted more than a year and a half and changed Bergami’s life.

Dr. Baig said, “I think drug-coated balloons are going to turn out to be a medical breakthrough. I think that the data so far is pretty good.”

Recently, Bergami ran a 5K and finished third in her age group.

“My medal is from November 2016 and it is an honor to wear it and to put it on to know that I did it.”

The drug-coated balloons, approved by the FDA in 2015, are showing good outcomes and reducing the need for repeat procedures.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Don Wall, Field Producer; Milvionne Chery, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; Mark Montgomery, Videographer.




TOPIC:       Leg Stents Get Ellen Back in the Race

REPORT:   MB #4231


BACKGROUND: Peripheral artery disease, also known as PAD, is a condition in which arteries are narrowed reducing the blood flow to legs, stomach, arms and head. It is more likely to stop blood flow to the legs, and it is very similar to coronary artery disease. The lack of blood can lead to symptoms like cramping or excruciating pain.  PAD can put someone at risk for developing other diseases like coronary heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and transient ischemic attack. One in every 20 Americans suffers from peripheral artery disease.
(Source:, &

TREATMENTS: Treatments for PAD do exist. They focus on lowering the level of pain the patient might be going through, as well as stopping the progression of atherosclerosis to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes. The easiest treatments involve lifestyle changes like quitting smoking (if the patient does smoke), eating healthy and exercising. When lifestyle changes don’t help, medicine might be prescribed by the doctor in order to prevent blood clots, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and to control pain and other symptoms. Other forms of treatment may be:

  • Angioplasty
  • Bypass surgery
  • Thrombolytic therapy
  • Supervised exercise programs


DRUG-COATED BALLOON: Drug-coated balloons are a new form of treatment that is being used for PAD. They are new to the U.S. market and FDA- approved. The procedure consists of inserting a small balloon into the blocked artery. Once in place, the balloon is expanded in order return flow. After the first balloon is deflated, a new balloon, coated with anti-proliferative medication, is inserted in to the same artery. The balloon is then inflated. This drug suppresses growth of smooth muscle cells which are responsible for causing restenosis in arteries (re-blockage of arteries), and it has few major complications.  The procedure is done under local anesthesia which is less risky than general anesthesia, and patients are able to return to normal activities shortly after the procedure. There’s still a need for more data to be collected, but so far the results are very promising.(Source: & Dr. Mirza Baig)


Susan Hall


If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at


Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Mirza Baig, M.D.

Read the entire Q&A