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New Shockwave procedure to open blocked heart arteries now available in Cedar Rapids, only at St. Luke's

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Illustration of Shockwave procedure breaking up calcified plaque in artery

UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids Heart & Vascular Institute and St. Luke’s heart team recently performed the first Shockwave procedure in Cedar Rapids.

Shockwave is a treatment for advanced coronary atherosclerosis, which is a buildup of fats and cholesterol in the arteries. This buildup is called plaque and it can cause arteries to narrow and harden, reducing blood flow. Shockwave was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in February. It opens blocked arteries to improve or reestablish blood flow by delivering sonic pressure waves to fracture the buildup of calcified plaque.

The procedure involves the insertion of a catheter and an emitter through the wrist or leg arteries. When the Shockwave device is turned on, it sends a pulse into the vessel wall to break down the hardened material. The artery can then be more easily expanded and a stent implanted. Shockwave, also known as intravascular lithotripsy (IVL), is based on lithotripsy technology, the process used to safely break up kidney stones.

“Shockwave is new approach for treating patients who have severe atherosclerosis or very weak heart muscles, and who may not be candidates for coronary bypass surgery,” said Richard Kettelkamp, interventional and structural cardiologist with UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s Cardiology and the Cedar Rapids Heart & Vascular Institute. “It is a major advancement in opening blocked blood vessels, is done with minimal trauma to the arteries and offers patients a more comfortable experience, right here in Cedar Rapids.”    

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common type of heart disease, affecting more than 18 million adults in the U.S. It occurs when atherosclerosis is present in the blood vessels supplying the heart. CAD is the No. 1 killer of Americans, causing more than 25 percent of deaths each year.

Risk factors for CAD include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, lack of exercise, smoking/tobacco use, an unhealthy diet and family history of heart disease. Visit us online to learn how you can prevent heart disease and get info about our Heart Check and Heart Scan screenings.



The UnityPoint Health - Cedar Rapids Heart & Vascular Institute encompasses the heart care specialists and services of St. Luke's Hospital, St. Luke's Cardiology and the cardiovascular surgeons from Physicians' Clinic of Iowa. This collaborative relationship allows for investments in technology, new procedures and innovation to provide the highest quality of care with fewer complications, better outcomes and higher survival rates. Adding the new Shockwave procedure means patients can stay in Cedar Rapids to receive advanced heart care.