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An Update on Prevea’s Western Wisconsin Operation
Heart Care

Shockwave intravascular lithotripsy (IVL) is an innovative treatment for people with severe coronary artery disease (CAD). The procedure helps to make placement of a stent safer and more effective for people with CAD and is used before implanting a stent to open blocked coronary arteries.

Over time, plaque (also known as calcification) may build up in the walls of the coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart and other parts of the body. Plaque is made up of deposits of cholesterol and other substances. Plaque buildup causes the inside of the arteries to narrow over time, which will partially or totally block blood flow to the heart. This plaque buildup process is called atherosclerosis and can result in complications, such as lack of flexibility in the calcified arteries, for those undergoing a stent procedure. Oftentimes, the regular balloon catheters used to deliver the stent cannot break through the calcium.

During the minimally-invasive shockwave procedure, the doctor delivers a tube-like device called a balloon catheter to the artery by making a small cut in the patient’s arm or leg. As the balloon catheter is inflated to a low pressure, the sonic pressure waves are then activated (integrated lithotripsy emitters), and the calcification that is restricting blood flow in the heart vessels is safely fractured or broken down. Once the shockwave procedure is complete, the balloon can then be expanded to prepare the artery for the delivery and implantation of a stent.

The shockwave procedure and the stent procedure are performed by Prevea Health interventional cardiologists at HSHS St. Vincent Hospital in Green Bay. If you are concerned about coronary artery disease, please discuss with your primary care provider or consider having a heart calcium score test, an easy and powerful way to spot the early stages of heart disease.