New technology is giving heart patients other options other than medication and bypass surgery for completely clogged arteries.
"We've always been limited by how long the blockage is and if there's some other angiographic things that limited us, if the artery was what we call bridging collaterals, it's probably closed off for a while," says Dr. Claro Diaz with the Sutherland Cardiac Clinic. "No longer do they prevent us from reopening the artery."
This new technology allows doctors to poke into the lining of a completely clogged artery to get to both ends of the blockage. Then they can insert the stints and completely reopen arteries.
One of the second patients Diaz said to have the surgery, Fredna Owens, was on nearly five different pills for four years to treat an artery that was 100-percent clogged but still had chest pains. After a 20 minute procedures three weeks ago, Owens is back at 100-percent.
"When I get off work, before it was like ‘I can't wait to get home where I can sit in my chair.' Now, it's like, I get home and ‘Let's go to the Y.' I have the energy to try and get myself back in shape," says Owens.
Another patient of Diaz's had bypass surgery in November but the bypass became blocked again in February when he had this new technology.
"For these folks, I think that it means is if they've had open heart surgery and one of the bypasses closes off, we have an option now to reopen the artery that was bypassed originally," says Diaz.
Diaz says this will not be a replacement for open-heart and bypass surgeries, but it may become a first option for patients with complete blockage.