PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — There is a medical first being conducted in Pennsylvania. Sound waves are being tested to treat a common heart condition. CBS3’s Stephanie Stahl spoke to the first patient who is doing well following the procedure.
This is a new treatment for severe cardiovascular calcifications, a new way to restore blood flow in the heart. It appears to be safer than traditional therapies.
With her newly-repaired heart, Vicky Soennichsen has her life back.
“I was completely exhausted all the time,” she said.
But she pushed through and figured her extra weight was causing things like being breathless, until she found out she had a severe blockage in her heart.
“I thought I was going to die,” she said.
Main Line cardiologist Dr. Sarang Mangalmurti says clearing severe plaque calcifications, like what Vickie had, can be dangerous.
He is testing a new and safer alternative, called shock-wave technology, that breaks up plaque with sound waves.
“It’s all micro-fractures, much the same way you’d crack an egg shell to weaken it, you do the same thing with plaque inside the vessel,” Dr. Mangalmurti said.
The shock-waves are deployed inside the heart vessel with a balloon and once it is cleared, a stent keeps it open.
“The technology is based on what’s been used for a long time to break up kidney stones, called lithotripsy,” Dr. Mangalmurti explained.
He has used the same technology on artery blockages in the leg, for the heart and it is called intravascular lithotripsy.
Soennichsen was the first patient at Bryn Mawr Hospital to receive the treatment.
“It’s amazing, I love technology. I just think it’s exciting and I’m really happy to be a part of a first case. I feel like I’ve made a mark,” Soennichsen said.
Soennichsen says the treatment she had in March caused some fleeting pressure in her chest but it was quick and easy. Now she’s looking forward to enjoying her daughter’s wedding.
If testing continues to be positive, the treatment could be more widely available next year. Read more about the treatment here.