Shockwave therapy opens clogged arteries

Health Watch

HOBOKEN, N.J. (Ivanhoe Newswire)— People who have coronary artery disease have a buildup of calcium deposits in their arteries. They may have low blood flow through their heart, and as a result, may be at higher risk for heart attack or stroke. A treatment that doctors have used for years to break up kidney stones is now approved to break up blockages in the arteries.

Barbara Colella is a restaurateur and an avid traveler, but after months of feeling short of breath, she had a sudden episode that landed her in the hospital.

“In January, I got up and I took my dog to the end of my driveway, and I felt like a horse had kicked me in the chest,” Barbara told Ivanhoe.

Barbara’s coronary arteries were 99.9 percent blocked. Doctors would have performed bypass surgery, but Barbara was also positive for COVID. Instead, Barbara was hospitalized for several weeks, which she says was a blessing.

Barbara Colella shared, “I am so fortunate that the Food and Drug Administration approved this procedure while I was recovering in the hospital.”

It’s called intravascular lithotripsy and it works using soundwaves. First, doctors pass a catheter through an arm vein or leg artery to reach arteries clogged with hard plaque.

“It’s a balloon, inflate the balloon, and then you emit, uh, these waves, which are shattering the calcium, which is in the wall of the vessel into tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny pieces,” said Haroon Faraz, MD, an interventional cardiologist at Hackensack University Medical Center.

The ground-up calcium remains safely within the wall of the artery, and doctors are able to continue with a traditional procedure to restore blood flow.

“The vessel becomes very compliant, and then it makes it easier for the treatment of the blockage with a stent and a balloon,” Dr. Faraz noted.

As her blood flow improved, Barbara began feeling better quickly.

“It was like, I was a new person,” Barbara exclaimed.

Back to work and back on the road.

The shockwave device was given breakthrough designation by the FDA in mid-February. Dr. Faraz says an earlier clinical trial for the device, The DISRUPT CAD-3 Trial, showed that the shockwave was safe and effective.

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