Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare First in the Southeast to Offer Groundbreaking Treatment Option for Patients with Coronary Artery Disease

April 16, 2021
First Coronary IVL Team
Tallahassee Memorial is the first in the region to utilize Shockwave Medical Inc.’s Coronary Intravascular Lithotripsy (IVL) System to treat patients with severely calcified arteries.
A regional leader in providing advanced heart and vascular care, Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare (TMH) is proud to be the first facility in the Southeast and fifth in the country to utilize Shockwave Medical Inc.’s groundbreaking technology for treating patients with severely calcified coronary artery disease – the Coronary Intravascular Lithotripsy (IVL) System. The new technology is a novel application of lithotripsy, an approach that has traditionally used sonic pressure waves to safely break up kidney stones, now also utilized to treat problematic calcium in the coronary arteries that can reduce blood flow in the heart.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, taking the lives of 600,000 people in the United States each year. As people with heart disease, and 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.

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. The new IVL technology allows physicians to fracture the problematic calcium using sonic pressure waves, also known as shockwaves, that pass through soft arterial tissue and disrupt calcified plaque by creating a series of micro-fractures. After the calcium has been cracked, the artery can be expanded at low pressure, allowing a stent to be safely implanted to improve blood flow, with minimal trauma to normal arterial tissue.

“Our cardiovascular team is steadfast in our commitment to giving our patients access to the latest and most advanced innovations to treat heart disease,” said William C. Dixon, IV, MD, FACC, interventional cardiologist at TMH and the first physician in the Southeast to utilize the new coronary IVL technology. “This is one of the first major innovations for treating coronary artery disease in 30 years. It’s exciting to be starting a new chapter in the treatment of heart disease in some of our most complex patient cases, especially with technology that improves the safety of the procedure.”

In addition to performing more clinical research and advanced procedures than any other program in the North Florida and South Georgia region, Tallahassee Memorial is home to the region’s only Accredited Chest Pain Center with Primary PCI & Resuscitation – the highest level of accreditation for chest pain centers. TMH has also been recognized by U.S. News & World Report as a Top Performer in Heart Failure Care.

“Our goal at TMH is to offer patients the highest level of care close to home. It’s that goal that drives us to continually expand and invest in the heart and vascular services our community needs,” shared Mark O’Bryant, President & CEO of TMH. “Big Bend residents don’t need to travel hundreds of miles to receive the most advanced treatments or to be cared for by the most highly trained doctors because they have access to them right here at home.”

Learn more about the advanced cardiovascular services available at Tallahassee Memorial.