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New Solution for High-Risk Heart Patients

December 16, 2021

A trusted technology is being put to a new use for heart patients once considered too high-risk for surgery.

Shockwave intravascular lithotripsy (IVL) is an advanced, minimally invasive procedure that depends on sonic pressure waves to effectively crack and shatter severely calcified plaque buildup in heart arteries.

Recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration, this procedure borrows its approach from lithotripsy, a shockwave technology used for decades to successfully break up kidney stones. Cardiologists with Orlando Health Heart & Vascular Institute are the first in Central Florida to use lithotripsy technology to treat cardiovascular disease.

“Patients with heart blockages that might have been hard to fix due to risk of complications can now have them repaired safely and return to normal activities without chest pain,” says Dr. Vijay Kasi, an interventional cardiologist with Orlando Health Heart & Vascular Institute. He also has used shockwave therapy to unblock peripheral leg and kidney arteries.

How It Works

Heart disease remains the leading cause of death for Americans, and coronary artery disease affects more than 18 million adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As the disease progresses, plaque can develop into rigid calcium deposits that narrow the passage inside the artery and restrict oxygen-rich blood flow to the heart. When these deposits become severely calcified, or hardened, conventional treatments like a stent or balloon can’t crack the blockage.

Delivered by traditional catheter, Shockwave IVL successfully breaks through calcium buildup, safely expands the affected blood vessel and restores blood flow, says Dr. Kasi. Patients experience minimal discomfort, fewer complications and less trauma to the vessel. The procedure takes only 30 minutes, and most patients are discharged the next day.  

To learn more about Shockwave intravascular lithotripsy, call Orlando Health Heart & Vascular Institute at (321) 841-6444.

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