Richard Harris is walking and talking just fine, not bad for guy who just had a major life saving surgery.

The Buckeye man's doctor questioned something on his neck and sent him to Doctor Venkatesh Ramaiah, The Director of Vascular Surgery at The Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital. Dr. Ramaiah started testing and found some major heart related illnesses.

"Mr. Harris had carotid and endoscopy, which is an open operation, which was done before. He developed a new restenosis. So, that made him a high grade stenosis, which made him a high surgical risk because the previous surgery in the neck," said Ramaiah.

[READ MORE: Phoenix woman with rare aneurysms gets life-saving surgery at Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital]

"But how?" asked Harris. "I don't have high cholesterol. How can I have all these blockages?"

Harris would quickly learn it's hereditary. In fact his sister had a stroke years ago and is still trying to recover.

He needed the surgery now. "You have to put your hands in a higher source. But you have to do it," said Harris.

Due to Harris' last surgery, he was the perfect candidate for TCAR or transcarotid artery revascularization.

"Sometimes in patients with high risk criteria, such as previous surgery or radiated neck or very high blockages in the neck, surgery the old fashioned way may become a little risky. Those patients we do carotid artery stenting," said Ramaiah.

[RELATED: Cutting Edge Institute for Heart Failure opens in Phoenix]

The TCAR procedure is meant to lower the risk of heart attack or stroke for patients diagnosed with carotid artery disease. A small incision is made on the side of the neck where the blockage is. A small sheath is placed directly into the carotid artery, with a similar sheath placed near the groin area.

Once hooked into a device to filter the blood, the flow of blood is reversed. Now instead of the blood flowing into the brain, it flows away so the doctors can address the blockage. That eliminates the possibility of particles from the blockage going into the brain, causing a stroke.

"It will gradually become the standard of care. Looking at the problems of carotid disease and how TCAR has avoided those problems in terms of stenting, I think this is a much safer and better approach," said Ramaiah.

[READ MORE: New heart valve replacement surgery has little downtime]

This means less down time for patients but most importantly it reduces the risk of stroke. Ramaiah believes TCAR will quickly overtake the old method and after his experience Harris agrees.

However, Ramaiah warns, detection is key "I’ve learned through this experience its hereditary, look in your family history."

Click/tap here to download the free azfamily mobile app.

Copyright 2018 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

Recommended for you