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RENO, Nev. — With more than 60,000 miles of blood vessels crisscrossing the human body, the circulatory system can be prone to a few problems. One of those problems is coronary artery disease (CAD), also known as coronary heart disease, which occurs when the arteries that supply blood to heart muscle become hardened and narrowed, due to the buildup of cholesterol and other material called plaque.
The most common symptom of CAD is chest pain. Nobody knows this better than Paul (for privacy purposes the patient’s last name has been excluded), 68, of Coleville, Calif., who was diagnosed with CAD last October at Renown Health’s Chest Pain Center. During that time, he underwent a new procedure to treat the arteries in his heart.
With the completion of the procedure, Paul became the first coronary laser treatment patient in northern Nevada and the only coronary laser patient performed outside of the Las Vegas Area.
Renown Health’s Institute for Heart & Vascular Health and the region’s first Chest Pain Center began offering this new technology in early October 2009. Hunt’s doctor, Devang Desai, MD, interventional cardiologist with Sierra Nevada Cardiology Associates, was the first physician to apply the advanced treatment. Dr. Desai is also the only physician outside of Las Vegas in the state of Nevada certified to use the laser for coronary cases.
Laser ablation is a minimally invasive procedure that helps restore blood flow to heart muscle by producing pulsed bursts of ultraviolet (UV) light energy that vaporize blockages in the arteries. This energy is transmitted along flexible glass fibers encased in tiny catheters, which can be passed through the arteries right to the location of the blockage. The FDA-cleared device, known as the Spectranetics excimer laser ablation system, is one of the most effective solutions and is only available in northern Nevada at Renown’s comprehensive catheterization laboratory.
According to the CDC in 2005, more than 445,000 people died from coronary heart disease, representing about 68.3 percent of all heart disease deaths. Figures from the American Heart Association also reveal that more than 83 percent of people who die of CAD are 65 or older.
In Paul’s case, he was evaluated at Renown’s Chest Pain Center for progressively worsening shortness of breath. He underwent a stress test, which revealed an abnormality and was subsequently found to have multivessel disease on a cardiac angiography. Hunt was then evaluated for coronary artery bypass surgery. Unfortunately during the surgery he was found to have significant hardening of his aorta and coronary arteries, and the surgeon was only able to attach one of three necessary bypass grafts.
Paul did well in the hospital and was discharged home but was monitored by Dr. Desai in subsequent follow-up appointments. He continued to have symptoms and therefore Renown’s clinical staff proceeded with attempted ballooning and stenting of the remaining two vessels.
During the stenting procedure, there was difficulty in inflating the balloon in the vessel due to plaque build up as well as calcification. Fortunately, Renown had the availability of the excimer laser ablation system. Dr. Desai, with the assistance of Renown Health staff, used the laser to ablate the plaque in the vessels. The subsequent attempt at balloon inflation and stenting went smoothly. Hunt went home the next morning and has been doing very well since.
The development of this new technology provides another option for the treatment of CAD, and for Paul, a new outlook on life.
“Renown is one of the best clinical settings because they have so many tools in their tool box,” Paul said. “Every patient is different. Each case has its challenges. In my case, the perfect fit was the laser, and Renown had the expertise and technology to meet my needs. The technology really saved my life.”
Although treatment options for CAD are improving, prevention is still the best medicine, Dr. Desai said. Two of the most easily modifiable risk factors are cigarette smoking and lack of regular physical activity. Fortunately, these conditions can be controlled with the appropriate medications and lifestyle changes.
“The good news is that when you reduce your risk for coronary artery disease, you’re simultaneously reducing your risk for heart attack and stroke,” Dr. Desai said. “Walking just three times a week at moderate levels, can improve your cardiovascular and overall health.
To learn more about innovative heart procedures and quality cardiac care please visit Renown.org or call 775-982-7888.
Symptoms of Coronary Artery Disease:
A person with one or more blocked arteries may feel pain and periodic discomfort in the chest, radiating to the neck and/or arms (usually on the left side). Symptoms can be triggered by physical exertion, eating, changes in temperature, extreme emotion or may be present even at rest. The symptoms may last three to five minutes until the cause is relieved; otherwise symptoms may last longer. If this continues, it can starve the heart muscle cells of oxygen and eventually lead to a heart attack.
What are the risk factors that contribute to CAD?
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol levels
- Lack of proper exercise
- Body weight
- Poor Diet
Spectranetics manufactures and markets the only Excimer Laser System approved in the United States, Canada, Europe and Japan for use in minimally invasive interventional procedures within the cardiovascular system. Nearly 900 Spectranetics laser systems are used in hospitals worldwide.
The Company’s Vascular Intervention (VI) products include a range of peripheral and cardiac laser catheters for ablation of occluded arteries above and below the knee and within coronary arteries. The Company also markets aspiration catheters for the removal of thrombus and support catheters to facilitate crossing of coronary and peripheral arterial blockages.
The Lead Management (LM) product line includes excimer laser sheaths and cardiac lead management accessories for the removal of pacemaker and defibrillator cardiac leads.
For more information, visit www.spectranetics.com.
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