New heart stent system is Edward Hospital’s present to Santa

February 23, 2016
Floyd King

For 68-year-old Floyd King, a professional Santa living in Alpena, MI, the last few years were tough. Not only did his coronary arteries keep getting blocked, causing chest pain and weakness, he also suffered from a painful neck condition.

His Michigan orthopedic surgeon, Louis Habryl, MD, recommended spinal fusion surgery to address the neck problem. He told King his best chance of safely undergoing the surgery was to first get effective treatment for his cardiovascular problem, chronic total occlusion (CTO), when a coronary artery has been blocked for a long period of time and is difficult to open and keep open.

King already had undergone eight cardiac catheterizations, resulting in placement of several stents – devices designed to prop open the arteries where they'd been blocked. But on several occasions, doctors had difficulty getting through King's highly calcified arteries.  

Dr. Habryl recommended King look into treatment at Edward Heart Hospital in Naperville, where his daughter, Mary Lou Habryl, RN, is the clinical leader of the cardiac catheterization lab. Edward has the latest equipment, and a team highly experienced in treating CTO, which sometimes requires an atherectomy.

In this procedure, the cardiologist uses a catheter that's fitted with a rotating blade, laser or other device. The catheter is threaded through the body to the blockage site, where the plaque is shaved or vaporized – helpful when severe calcification makes treatment solely with balloons and/or stents difficult. 

"Angioplasty for patients with CTO typically has a 5 to 10 percent rate of success in opening the artery,” says Mark Goodwin, MD, medical director of Edward Heart Hospital's Cardiac Catheterization Lab and interventional cardiologist with Midwest Heart-Advocate Medical Group. “With our range of CTO strategies, the Edward team has been able to achieve a 90 percent success rate."

By the time he consulted with Dr. Goodwin, King says, "I had been having chest pains for two years. (Eventually) I couldn't even shovel the smallest amount of snow, or walk 50 feet without stopping. "

Dr. Goodwin and interventional cardiologist Tony DeMartini, MD, also with Midwest Heart-Advocate Medical Group, worked to clear two of King's blocked arteries using laser atherectomy and angioplasty at Edward in November 2015. 

Dr. Goodwin and interventional cardiologist Tony DeMartini, MD, also with Midwest Heart-Advocate Medical Group, worked to clear two of King's blocked arteries using laser atherectomy and angioplasty at Edward in November 2015. 

They also used the newly FDA-approved SYNERGY Bioabsorbable Polymer Drug-Eluting Stent System – the first stent in which both the drug coating and the polymer, which controls the drug's release, are fully absorbed by the body within months. Edward is the first Illinois hospital to use SYNERGY in coronary interventions.

"The only stents that had been available were either bare metal, which sometimes irritates the blood vessel, or metal stents coated with a drug to help prevent recurring blockages,” says Dr. Goodwin. “(However,) some patients who receive the drug-eluting stents are slow to heal and require long-term blood thinners."

The SYNERGY stent lessens the risk of these complications according to its manufacturer, Boston Scientific, by “(avoiding) the permanent polymer exposure, which has been associated with complications such as vessel re-narrowing and blood clots."

"Patients with CTO typically are on two blood thinners for six to nine months after their procedure,” says Dr. Goodwin. “With this stent, it's often safer to stop these drugs sooner."

And, cutting back on blood thinners helps make subsequent surgeries safer, such as King's planned spinal fusion.

King is now back to hunting, shoveling snow and basically doing what he wants to do, including gearing up for Santa's busiest season, come December.

To find out if you’re at risk for heart disease, take Edward-Elmhurst Health’s free five-minute test at www.EEHealth.org/HealthAware. For more information about Edward-Elmhurst Health cardiac care, visit www.EEHealth.org/Heart