First-of-Its-Kind Treatment for Heart Disease

Published on August 19, 2021

PIH Health Good Samaritan Hospital Offers First-of-Its-Kind Treatment for Heart Disease

PIH Health Good Samaritan Hospital has a new treatment option available for patients with severely calcified coronary artery disease. The new technology is a novel application of lithotripsy, sonic pressure waves or shockwave energy, which has been used for many years to safely break up kidney stones. It is now available to treat problematic calcium in the coronary arteries that can reduce blood flow in the heart.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women.[i] Each year, more than 600,000 people in the United States die of heart disease. As people with heart disease, specifically coronary artery disease, grow older and their disease progresses, plaque in the arteries evolves into calcium deposits, which harden the narrowing in the artery. Physicians often use stents to open an artery, and of the approximately one million patients that undergo a stent procedure each year, 30 percent have problematic calcium that increases their risk for adverse events by preventing the stent from expanding.[ii] 

“Cardiologists at PIH Health Good Samaritan Hospital are committed to providing patients with access to many of the latest cardiovascular innovations to treat heart disease,” said Guy Mayeda MD, interventional cardiologist at PIH Health Good Samaritan Hospital. “We are pleased to offer a new treatment, that improves the safety and efficacy for some of our patients with the most complex heart and vascular disease.”

Calcium makes 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.[iii] While atherectomy has been available for several decades, its use remains low, as it can sometimes result in complications for patients undergoing stent procedures.[iii] The new shockwave technology, also known as intravascular lithotripsy or IVL, allows physicians to fracture the problematic calcium - using sonic pressure waves - so that the artery can be safely opened, and blood flow restored with the placement of a fully expanded stent and with a low rate of complications.[iii]


[i] https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm

[ii] Généreux P, et al. JACC 2014; 63(18);1845-54

[iii] Hill J., Kereiakes D., et al. IVL for Severely Calcified Coronary Artery Disease. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2020 Dec, 76 (22) 2635–2646. https://www.jacc.org/doi/full/10.1016/j.jacc.2020.09.603