First-of-Its-Kind Treatment for Heart Disease Offered at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital Procedure Uses Shockwaves to Treat Calcified Coronary Plaque

Michael H. Koo, MD

Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital is the first in Fort Bend to offer a new treatment option for patients with severely calcified coronary artery disease. The new technology is a novel application of lithotripsy, an approach that uses sonic pressure waves to treat problematic calcium in the coronary arteries that can reduce blood flow in the heart, similar to the approach of breaking up kidney stones.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women.1 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 can narrow 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.2

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.3  While atherectomy has been available for several decades, its use remains low, as it can result in complications for patients who are undergoing stent procedures.3  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 expanded, and blood flow is restored with the placement of a stent and without unnecessary complications.3

“The cardiology team at Houston Methodist Sugar Land is steadfast in our commitment to give our patients access to the latest cardiovascular innovations to treat heart disease,” said Michael H. Koo, M.D., board-certified interventional cardiologist with Houston Methodist Cardiology Associates at Sugar Land. “It is exciting to start a new chapter in the treatment of heart disease in some of our most complex patient cases after using the same tools for the last 30 years – especially one that improves the safety of the procedure for the benefit of Fort Bend and surrounding community residents.”

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Koo or another cardiologist with Houston Methodist Cardiology Associates at Sugar Land, call 713.776.9500.

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

3 Hill J., Kereiakes D., et al. IVL for Severely Calcified Coronary Artery Disease. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2020 Dec, 76 (22) 2635–2646.