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Leo Griffith: The Shock of His Life
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The Shock of His LifeLeo Griffith.

Dr. Mark Grise, an interventional cardiologist with Sacred Heart Cardiology, recently completed the first successful heart pump procedure at Sacred Heart Hospital. The heart pump, called the Impella®, is a tiny device used to provide temporary support for the heart muscle by aiding the heart in pumping blood when a patient’s heart is too weak. The Impella is capable of pumping 2.5 liters of blood per minute and can sustain the heart for up to seven days.

Leo Griffith, 75, is grateful for Dr. Grise’s experience with the Impella device. He was in a casino in Atmore, Ala. when he suffered a heart attack and fell to the floor. During an ambulance ride to the local hospital, Leo’s heart stopped beating and the ambulance crew had to shock his chest to revive him. Then, during a helicopter ride to Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola, his heart stopped again.

“They zapped me three times,” he said. “I remember because it hurt like hell.”

Once at Sacred Heart, he was taken to the Cardiac Cath Lab and seen by Dr. Grise. Because Leo’s heart was so weak and unstable, Dr. Grise decided to insert the device through Leo’s leg artery and up to his heart. The pump supported Leo’s heart and vital organs while Dr. Grise performed a heart stent procedure to open two blocked coronary arteries.

“This is new technology that I began using in 2009 while at the Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans,” says Dr. Grise. “We’ve used it a few times now at Sacred Heart with really dramatic results, however, Mr. Griffith was the first patient.”

After several days in Sacred Heart’s intensive care unit, the heart pump was removed and Leo returned to his home in Milton. Only a few months later, he is now back to his regular routine, which includes going out on his boat and fishing on the Blackwater River.

“I’m forever in debt to him,” Leo says of Dr. Grise. “He gave me my life back.”

Dr. Grise specializes in interventional cardiac and peripheral artery procedures. He performs minimally-invasive procedures to restore blood flow through narrowed or blocked coronary arteries. He specializes in performing these procedures through the radial artery in the wrist, offering patients a safer and more comfortable procedure compared to the traditional placement of a catheter into an artery in the groin. He has participated in numerous research trials and has been involved in teaching physicians new interventional techniques.

Learn more about Dr. Grise.


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