In the past, patients who've had long-standing blockages in the arteries of their hearts often had just two options: Take medication to manage the blockage or undergo bypass surgery.
Now, thanks to new technology, less-invasive procedures are an option.
65-year-old Steve Moffitt is feeling a lot better heading into the New Year. The Estherville, Iowa, man suffered a heart attack with a blocked heart artery in 2013.
"I'd be sleeping all the time and never wanted to do anything," Moffitt said.
In November, Moffitt underwent a procedure to open up the blockage in the artery on the surface of the heart, which had been blocked for quite some time.
"It used to be that trying to treat these with balloons and stents had a fairly low success rate, so patients would either need to be treated with medical therapy or bypass surgery," North Central Heart Institute Interventional Cardiologist Dr. Sean Halligan said.
Now thanks to new technology, including a CrossBoss catheter, more patients like Moffitt are finding success with less-invasive operations.
"There are still risks involved, but it's less invasive, and the recovery time is significantly shorter," Halligan said.
During the procedure, Halligan inserts the catheter into the patient's artery through the leg. He attaches a wire to help guide it to the blockage. He then takes the wire out and spins the catheter to push it through the blockage. After that, he uses balloons or stents to keep the artery open.
"Therefore, hopefully improving patient's symptoms and avoiding bypass surgery," Halligan said.
After this procedure, patients typically only spend a night in the hospital and almost instantly feel better.
"I had surgery, and within a week you are up and going," Moffitt said.
In fact, Moffitt says he has more energy heading into the New Year than he's had in a couple years.
"I feel great now," Moffitt said.
The specific condition treated with the use of the new technology is called a "chronic total occlusion" or CTO.
That's when an artery is completely blocked and has been blocked for a longer period of time.