abc
QUICK LINKS:

Helping Asthma Patients Breathe Better

Updated: 05/07/2014 10:41 PM
Created: 05/07/2014 2:51 PM WDIO.com

Samantha Anderson greets countless customers at the service desk at L&M Supply in Grand Rapids.

She's got a great smile and helpful demeanor. She also has severe asthma.

"If I laugh too hard, it triggers an asthma attack. If I have an emotional day and I cry, it triggers an asthma attack. I wake up in the middle of the night, not able to breathe, three or four times a night," she shared with us at work last month.

Still, she takes this in stride. The 21-year-old from Bovey really enjoys the outdoors, kayaking in particular. "It's hard because I can't really be by myself or too far away from anyone, just in case. I also can't run very far before needing my inhaler. I'd like to run, for fun!"

She's on inhalers and medications, but they just weren't helping enough.

Her pulmonologist, Dr. Sonja Bjerk, suggested a new treatment, called bronchial thermoplasty.

We were invited in to see the procedure. Samantha's is only the second one performed at Essentia Health St. Mary's Medical Center.

Bjerk, along with a respiratory therapist, work together to use a catheter that delivers radio frequency waves directly to the airway muscle in the lungs. The burst of waves are about ten seconds long, and are called activations.

The activations heat the muscle up, which then will shrink it, although not enough for the naked eye to see during the surgery. Asthma patients like Samantha have airway muscles that are built up too much. 

This procedure will bring it down 50%, to normal levels, according to Travis Anderson, a specialist from Boston Scientific, who manufactures the equipment.

Samantha needed 85 activations. The number varies by patient, because everyone's lungs are a little big different. A program coordinator helps keep track of the activations, but they are also tracked by the medical device. 

Dr. Bjerk said it's exciting doing this procedure. "We have so many patients waiting for help. It's why we go into the field of medicine, to help people." She and another pulmonologist have had special training to operate with the equipment.

Boston Scientific told us only four sites in Minnesota can do bronchial thermoplasty with Essentia Health St. Mary's being one of them. The others are in the Twin Cities and in St. Cloud.

Samantha told us she was feeling great a few hours after the surgery. She can't wait to run! She will still need two more treatments, before the three-part surgery is complete. But Bjerk and the Boston Scientific reps said many patients feel the effects right away, after the first one.

Front Page

  • Thousands of Northlanders go to Thanksgiving Buffet at the DECC

    The annual Twin Ports Region Thanksgiving Buffet was held at the DECC on Thursday. This is the 25th year of the dinner produced by Twin Ports community volunteers and the College of St. Scholastica. The event served an estimated 65 hundred meals including 13 hundred meals that were delivered around the area.

  • Shoppers Make Thanksgiving Bargain Hunting New Tradition

    More and more Americans are now making gift shopping on Thanksgiving a new holiday tradition, and in Duluth, one retail welcomed shoppers at 7 a.m. on Turkey Day with deals. Experts say 25 million shoppers will hit stores to take advantage of the early deals this Thanksgiving....

  • One Man Dead After House Fire in Town of Superior

    One man is dead after a house fire broke out in the Town of Superior on Thursday morning. It happened around 1:30 a.m. on the 6300 block of South Darrow Road. Crews arrived on the scene to find the lower floor of the two-story house fully engulfed.

  • Group Aims to Spread the Love to Service Members Overseas

    'Tis the season to give and a group of women in northwestern Wisconsin is spreading the love to our service members overseas. They need the public's help to fill 300 boxes before Christmas.

  • 1 Killed, 3 Injured in Alborn Township Rollover

    A rollover in Alborn Township turned fatal early Thursday morning. A 48-year-old Shoreview woman was killed in the crash. Officials say her name is being withheld until her family is notified.

 

Winter Weather Advisory

MN AREAS AFFECTED: Crow Wing; North Cass; Northern Aitkin; Pine; South Aitkin; South Cass
Expires: 11/28/2014 4:00 PM

Winter Weather Advisory

MN AREAS AFFECTED: Clay; East Becker; East Marshall; East Otter Tail; East Polk; Hubbard; Kittson; Mahnomen; Norman; North Clearwater; Pennington; Red Lake; South Beltrami; South Clearwater; Wadena; West Becker; West Marshall; West Otter Tail; West Polk
Expires: 11/28/2014 12:00 PM

Winter Weather Advisory

WI AREAS AFFECTED: Burnett; Price; Sawyer; Washburn
Expires: 11/28/2014 4:00 PM

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement