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Groundbreaking “Shockwave” Treatment Gives New Hope to North Oaks Patients with Severe Heart Disease

  • Category: In The News
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  • Written By: Melanie Zaffuto
Groundbreaking “Shockwave” Treatment Gives New Hope to  North Oaks Patients with Severe Heart Disease

Led by Nidal Abi Rafeh, M.D., FACC, Top Interventional Cardiologist for Most Cases Performed in the U.S.

A groundbreaking minimally invasive treatment for calcified coronary artery disease called Shockwave Intravascular Lithotripsy (IVL) was recently approved by the FDA for use in the U.S.

It is now being performed on the Northshore at North Oaks Medical Center by world-renowned Interventional Cardiologist Nidal Abi Rafeh, M.D., FACC, who leads the U.S. in number of Shockwave procedures successfully performed. To learn more or to schedule an appointment with North Oaks Cardiology in Hammond or Livingston, call (985) 230-7350.

Shockwave IVL, which harnesses the power of sonic pressure waves historically used to break up kidney stones through lithotripsy, is bringing new hope to individuals with severely calcified coronary artery disease and can eliminate the need for open heart surgery in some cases. Watch the video to see how it works. 

“I’ve performed Shockwave IVL overseas for a long time now, and in my experience, it’s proven to be extremely safe and a very effective way to disrupt rigid calcium deposits in coronary arteries. Now that it is approved for coronary use in the U.S., we have gained a valuable treatment option in our arsenal of interventions, especially for complex, high-risk patients,” asserts Abi Rafeh. “Shockwave IVL promises to become the standard of care for short, calcified blockages, especially when the calcium is deep in the artery. It is already greatly benefitting our patients in our community, region and country.”

As individuals with coronary artery disease age and their disease progresses, plaque in their arteries evolves into calcium deposits. This can narrow or block the arteries. Physicians often use stents to open narrowed or blocked arteries to restore blood flow. Of the approximately 1 million patients that undergo stent procedures each year, 30% have problematic calcium that increases their risk for serious complications. This is because the bone-like calcium deposits make the artery rigid and more difficult or impossible to reopen with conventional treatments alone. Such treatments include balloons deployed by a catheter and inflated under high pressure to break up the calcium, and atherectomy, which requires drilling through the calcium before the stent can be placed.

In contrast, our team now uses shockwave technology to deploy a catheter into the artery and inflate a balloon to a low pressure. Next, we use Shockwave IVL to deliver sonic pressure waves that gently crack the calcium deposits in the artery wall. After the calcifications are broken up, we then expand the balloon to prepare the artery for stenting to restore blood flow.

“The Cardiovascular team at North Oaks is steadfast in our commitment to give our patients access to the latest and safest innovations to treat heart disease and improve lives,” affirms Erica Williams, vice president of North Oaks Health System’s Cardiovascular service line.

Each year, more than 600,000 people in the U.S. die of heart disease, and it’s the leading cause of death for men and women.

About Nidal Abi Rafeh, M.D., FACC

Certified in Interventional Cardiology and as a diplomate in Cardiovascular Disease by the American Board of Internal Medicine, North Oaks Cardiology’s Nidal Abi Rafeh, M.D., FACC, is a fellow of the American College of Cardiology.  Abi Rafeh is world-renowned for his expertise in the performance of numerous interventional cardiology procedures, including complex and high-risk Chronic Total Occlusion Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (CTO PCI) and Shockwave Intravascular Lithotripsy (IVL).

Abi Rafeh is a consultant and complex CTO PCI physician proctor for multiple companies. He currently co-chairs the American Progress CTO Registry for the MENATA Chapter (Middle East, North Africa, Turkey and Asia) and is a past director and founder of Tulane Medical Center’s CTO program. He also serves on the editorial board of multiple peer review journals and has contributed to several research books and articles for peer-reviewed journals, including: The Lancet, Journal of Women’s Health, Journal for Healthcare Quality and the International Journal of Cardiology.

Abi Rafeh completed an internship, residency as chief resident and fellowship as chief fellow in Cardiovascular Medicine through Staten Island University Hospital in New York. He went on to complete a second fellowship in Interventional Cardiology through Tulane University in New Orleans. He earned his medical degree from the Lebanese University School of Medicine in Lebanon.