Larry King hosts Web cast from GW hospital

Larry King returned to GW Hospital Thursday afternoon to host a live Web cast of a cardiac catheterization, a heart procedure both King and Vice President Dick Cheney have undergone at the hospital.

Hospital spokeswoman Marti Harris said the hospital conducted the Web cast because GW hopes to educate the public on the dangers of heart disease.

“If you are having a heart attack, this is the best place to be,” Dr. Joel Rosenberg said. He added that King chose wisely when he came to GW Hospital.

The procedure was aired on a live Web cast at 2 p.m., showcasing the latest in cardiovascular technology at GW Hospital.

King kept the show going with questions and jokes, as Cheney’s cardiologist, Dr. Jonathan Reiner, performed a cardiac catheterization on a patient.

In the procedure, a long, thin and flexible tube is inserted through an artery in the thigh up to the heart. X-rays are then taken of the heart and coronary arteries. Cardiac catheterization is a very common diagnostic test performed thousands of times a day, according to the American Heart Association.

King has maintained close ties with GW Hospital after being treated there for a heart attack in 1987. He underwent the cardiac catheterization procedure to monitor his heart disease.

The procedure is the first of its kind to show 3-D images of a patient’s vascular structure. It allows doctors to see the interiors of arteries and any possible blockages, according to the hospital Web site.

The patient was not put to sleep and remained silent through the procedure.

“He’s in a very pleasant state right now,” Reiner said. “He’s awake, oriented and very relaxed.”

King moderated from another room while watching the procedure on a computer screen with Dr. Richard Katz, director of GW’s Cardiology Division and King’s cardiologist for the past 12 years.

The show ended after Reiner detected a clot in the patient’s artery. The doctor then decided to place a stent in the vessel after removing the clot.

A special balloon was used to open the obstructed artery, and then a stent, a small device that looks like a tiny clear tube, is used to keep the artery open. Both Cheney and King have stents, which cost more than $1,000 each and are supposed to last forever.

“Looks like it should cost a nickel,” King said about the tiny device.

The event was sponsored by the GW Hospital and Philips Medical Systems, which developed the medical technology, as well as the Larry King Cardiac Foundation.

Katz said planning took a few months as the hospital waited until King – who divides his time among Los Angeles, New York City and D.C., – was in town.

King was in D.C. for his foundation’s annual fundraiser on Friday.

The Larry King Cardiac Foundation was established in 1988 following King’s successful quintuple bypass surgery at a New York Hospital. The foundation pays for life-saving cardiac treatment for people who would otherwise not be able to cover their medical bills.

The GW Hospital is one of four hospitals nationwide that receives funding from King’s foundation. GW also provides for the most patients covered by the group – about one-third of the foundation’s patients.

Katz said King often drops by the GW Hospital to visit patients who have received medical care funded by his foundation

He has also said King has gone on rounds with GW medical students and resident physicians.

Through the Web cast and the activities of King’s foundation, Katz said he hopes to make a difference in the way people take care of themselves.

“People need to know about heart disease and the importance of early treatment,” said Steve Perry, president of the King Foundation. “That is the most important thing we hope to get across.”

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