Cardiologists at Orlando Health ORMC to Offer New Technology for Coronary Artery Disease

Cardiologists at Orlando Health Orlando Regional Medical Center are breaking through heart disease with new technology. The doctors are the first in Central Florida to offer shockwave technology to break up severely calcified plaque in heart arteries. The new technology for severely calcified coronary artery disease uses sonic pressure waves to break away problematic calcium so heart arteries can be safely expanded, and blood flow restored. The treatment is also a new way to use lithotripsy - an approach that has been used for decades for kidney stones. The Food and Drug Administration recently approved the technology to treat coronary arteries.

"Heart disease remains the leading cause of death for men and women in our country," said VijayKumar S. Kasi M.D., Ph.D., interventional cardiologist, chief, Interventional Cardiology, and director, Cardiovascular Research, Orlando Health Heart & Vascular Institute. "The ongoing development of advanced treatment options is critical to improving patient outcomes. This new technology is another example of our dedicated commitment to provide patients with effective and safe options." 

With the progression of coronary artery disease over time, plaque in the arteries becomes calcium deposits narrowing the artery and restricting blood flow to the heart. For patients, this means symptoms like chest pain and shortness of breath which can make everyday life activities and hobbies difficult to enjoy. In some instances, the condition leads to a heart attack.

Calcium deposits make the artery rigid and more difficult to reopen with conventional treatments, including balloons, which attempt to crack the calcium when inflated to high pressure, and atherectomy, which drills through the calcium to open the artery.

"In more difficult stages of coronary artery disease, the calcium is so hard it cannot be cleared to allow blood flow or additional treatment of a stent or balloon," said Dr. Kasi. "With shockwave technology, also known as intravascular lithotripsy or IVL, the calcium is easily cleared, and with less trauma to the vessel in the process of clearing the calcium build up." 

The procedure takes only 30 minutes and patients are discharged the next day. "Patients who were once told that their heart blockages were hard to fix due to a higher risk of complications, now have a chance to have them repaired safely," said Dr. Kasi. "Patients share with me how delighted they are with the results, and how much they appreciate a second chance to return to normal activities. For example, they are now able to walk longer distances, or climb a flight of stairs without chest pain."

Dr. Kasi has also used the technology to unblock arteries to restore blood flow in the legs (peripheral) and to the kidneys (renal). He published the first article in the world using the technology for stenosed renal arteries, and is also working on additional clinical research studies to enhance understanding of the novel technology.