Atrium Health Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute First in the Carolinas to Perform Innovative Coronary Procedure

06.10.2024 Atrium Health News | Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute

Minimally invasive procedure promises breakthrough for patients with coronary artery disease

CHARLOTTE, N.C., June 10, 2024 The month of May brought another first to Atrium Health Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute. Its cardiovascular team became the first in the Carolinas to use a new, FDA-approved device for drug-coated balloon treatment of coronary in-stent restenosis (ISR). The procedure took place May 28 at Atrium Health Carolinas Medical Center.

Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) remains the most common type of heart disease and the leading cause of death globally. CAD develops when the coronary arteries that supply the heart with blood, oxygen and nutrients become damaged or diseased. Cholesterol-containing plaque in the arteries and inflammation are usually to blame for coronary artery disease. Over time, CAD can lead to chest pain, shortness of breath and other symptoms. Most notably, it can lead to heart attacks, necessitating advanced interventions like stenting and now, the use of drug-coated balloons.

"Historically, stent restenosis has posed a substantial challenge, often leading to severe lifestyle limitations for patients,” said Dr. Nyal Borges, an interventional cardiologist at Atrium Health Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute who performed the milestone surgery. "The introduction of drug-coated balloon therapy marks a significant breakthrough, offering symptomatic relief and reducing the rate of restenosis, thereby improving our patients’ quality of life substantially."

Stent restenosis is a complication that can occur after the placement of a stent, which is a tiny tube used to keep an artery open following the treatment of blocked or narrowed arteries, commonly seen in conditions like coronary artery disease. Restenosis refers to the re-narrowing of the artery at the stent site, typically caused by an excessive growth of scar tissue and the proliferation of the arterial wall cells, leading to a reduction in blood flow.

The new Boston Scientific AGENT Drug-Coated Balloon procedure addresses coronary ISR by delivering a therapeutic dose of paclitaxel directly to the artery wall, which helps prevent the recurrence of ISR. This method has demonstrated statistical superiority over conventional treatments in a comprehensive, year-long clinical trial involving 600 patients across 40 U.S. sites.

"Prior to advancements like this, options were limited to less effective therapies that did not adequately address the underlying issues of stent restenosis,” said Borges.

The procedure is performed in a cardiac catheterization lab. Patients can expect to return home the same day, a few hours post-operation. Following the procedure, patients are closely monitored in an outpatient setting to ensure sustained symptomatic relief. The post-treatment prognosis is promising, with many patients returning to their daily activities with markedly improved heart function and significantly reduced symptoms.

"This initiative not only underscores our commitment to pioneering heart care but also positions Atrium Health Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute as a leader in the Southeast for innovative cardiovascular therapies," said Borges. "Our ability to now offer this treatment provides a significant beacon of hope for our patients afflicted with coronary artery disease."

Atrium Health Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute continues to lead the region in coronary artery disease care through its adoption of cutting-edge transcatheter devices and advanced percutaneous techniques, consistently achieving superior outcomes.

In 2023, Sanger performed 10,549 percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) procedures and has received numerous prestigious awards, including multiple platinum and gold recognitions from the American College of Cardiology-NCDR Chest Pain and American Heart Association Mission: Lifeline registries at Atrium Health Cabarrus, Atrium Health Carolinas Medical Center and Atrium Health Pineville.