During American Heart Month, Methodist Hospital Metropolitan announces two minimally-invasive cardiovascular treatments now offered to patients thanks to new and innovative technologies.

The first new treatment is an alternate option to blood thinners for atrial fibrillation (AF) patients. Because AF causes the heart to beat very fast and irregularly, blood can collect in the heart's upper heart chamber. This collection of blood can form clots that could possibly travel to the brain, causing a stroke, which is why many AF patients are treated with blood thinners.

Many patients do not want to be on blood thinners, as they may affect their health and lifestyle, requiring extra precautions to avoid falls or injuries for fear of bleeding. Now, Methodist Hospital Metropolitan can treat patients using this alternative option to blood thinners by performing minimally-invasive left atrial appendage closure (LAA) procedures to close off their LAA. Doing so removes the ability for clots to form, thus reducing the fear of stroke.

During the procedure, a small, compact device the size of a quarter is permanently implanted into the heart through a catheter. This new advancement in cardiovascular care enables the hospital to serve more patients by offering an effective and safe treatment option in place of blood thinners. A clinical trial showed that 96% of patients who received the implanted device could completely stop taking blood thinners just 45 days after the procedure.

Another major benefit for patients who receive this one-time procedure is that it lasts a lifetime; future surgeries or replacement devices are not needed. Additionally, AF patients who are not a good fit for blood thinners, can also be considered for this alternative treatment.

Additionally, the hospital now offers a new form of Intravascular Lithotripsy (IVL) to treat patients with severe coronary artery disease (CAD). As patients with CAD age and their disease progresses, the plaque evolves into tough calcium deposits, narrowing the artery and impacting proper blood flow. Typically, physicians use stents to open an artery that's blocked, but complications commonly arise due to the rigidness of the calcium. When the plaque severely blocks patients' arteries, it becomes challenging for the stent to expand inside the artery fully, causing stent procedures to be dangerous. This new technology allows physicians to fracture the calcium first using sonic pressure waves so that when the stent is deployed, it can expand fully to restore normal blood flow.

Similar technology has been used for decades to break up kidney stones. Methodist Hospital Metropolitan is the first hospital within Methodist Healthcare to begin performing these procedures. The first case was completed in May 2021.

"We are very proud of our cardiovascular team at Methodist Hospital Metropolitan," shared Greg Seiler, Chief Executive Officer. "These two new cardiovascular advancements prove our dedication to offering our patients the latest and most revolutionary innovations. For some, these treatments are their only hope. We're improving and saving many lives thanks to our highly skilled interventional cardiologists and electrophysiologists."

Both new treatments are performed in the hospital's newly renovated, state-of-the-art Cardiac Catheterization Lab, which includes the most advanced technology to aid our specialists in employing the optimal approach for each patient's specific needs. Near the end of 2021, the hospital's Cardiac Catheterization Lab surpassed 500 Chronic Total Occlusion (CTO) procedures, which is considered the most complex Percutaneous Coronary Intervention procedure. They celebrated this achievement as the only hospital in South Texas to have performed this many CTOs.

Additionally, the hospital is an Accredited Chest Pain Center with Primary PCI by the American College of Cardiology and is an Accredited Heart Failure Hospital. Both accreditations and these new procedure options represent their long-standing commitment to excellence in cardiovascular medicine. Click here to learn more about the Methodist Hospital Metropolitan's cardiovascular services.