News from Cardiovascular Medicine

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March 25, 2015

By Don Williams, Director of SMC's Cardiovascular Laboratory

     The FDA has recently approved for use in the US of Drug Coated Balloon Catheters for the treatment of Peripheral Arterial Disease or PAD.
     If you experience pain while walking or what is called claudication, it might be a  result of poor blood flow to the legs from arteriosclerosis. For many years cardiovascular medicine has been searching for an effective long- term treatment of peripheral arterial disease. Typical treatments involved propping open the vessels with stents, debulking the vessel of plaque with laser or cutting devices, or just plain old balloon angioplasty compressing the sometimes-spongy plaque against the vessel wall. 
     Because the legs are articulating, or constantly in motion, stents would often fracture and cause the blockages to recur. Procedures utilizing balloons by themselves often only kept the vessel open from a few months to a few years. With the approval of drug coated balloons, new studies show blockage recurrence is dropping from 70-90% down to 2.5-13%.  With the release of this new technology, patients may expect a decrease in stent use in the lower extremity arteries and fewer hospitalizations associated with PAD.

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