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New life-saving procedure performed by measuring blood flow in tiny heart vessels at Ascension

Heart Procedure Ascension
Posted at 2:45 PM, Dec 28, 2021

ROCHESTER, Mich. (WXYZ) — The holiday season can whip up the perfect storm for heart attacks.

Drinking, parties, and stress over the holidays can make this one of the deadliest times of the year.

But now, Ascension Providence in Rochester has brand new technology that can put a stop to certain heart issues that once lead a person straight to the operating table.

That technology was used on Tim Lechtenberg.

Retirement has been good to Lechtenberg and his wife, a retired nurse. The couple shares a love for family, including their two sons and their pets. But a lifestyle that used to include cigarettes has left him with quite a few health issues.

“I usually have shortness of breath, but I have COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), lung issues, and I'm always wondering if it's the heart that causing a lot of the lung issues,” said Tim.

He stopped smoking 20 years ago, Tim at 70 has been to a number of doctors in search of answers about his heart issues.

“I've probably had chest pain maybe 10 years, and I've had two stents,” he said.

Then in November, he went to Dr. Nishit Choksi, the chief of cardiology at Ascension Providence in Rochester. Dr. Choksi took him through a chemical stress test and a catheterization to check whether he needed another stent.

“I had fallen asleep and woke up in the recovery area, and the doctor came in and said, 'Wow, you've been through a new procedure."

They used a brand-new technology on Tim called CoroFlow.

"I am the first patient using this type of technology and equipment in Michigan,” Tim said.

Ascension Providence in Rochester is one of only seven hospitals in the country with this new technology, which measures blood flow in the body's tiny vessels. “We put in a little wire, give some medication, and we do some measurement, measurement will tell us whether a person has microvalve disease or not,” said Dr. Choksi.

“We all have big blood vessels, or macro valves, in our heart that can have blockages, which can lead to stents or bypass surgery," said Dr. Choksi. "But the CoroFlow technology revealed Tim had problems with the tiny vessels or microvalves in his heart which are too tiny for the naked eye to see, and although 50 to 60 percent of patients have microcirculation problems."

There was no way to diagnose this problem until now with CoroFlow. Before this technology, it was a guessing game, and patients often underwent surgery without good results.

“Twenty percent of the time these patients will have angioplasty and stent or bypass surgery; two or three months later still having the discomfort,” said Choski.

Dr. Choksi says 10 percent of your blood flows in the big vessels, and the other 90 % in the small vessels ,and that is why this new technology is so groundbreaking, because microvalve circulation problems are treated with medication not surgery.

“After a month, I'm starting to feel great,” said Lechenberg. "I can run up and downstairs. I can help my son move all of his stuff out of his house. And the other day I was telling my dogs, 'Let's run rather than walk,' so I'm feeling much better."

“You haven't felt this good in how long?" asked WXYZ’s Carolyn Clifford.

“Probably five years,” said Lechenberg.

“So, you're going into the holidays feeling wonderful,” said Clifford.

“Yeah, wonderful like I got a gift, a big gift,” said Lenchenberg.

Dr. Choksi says if you are having chest pain that will not go away and other underlying heart issues that are not being solved with other treatment, CoroFlow technology it may just be the answer you've been searching for.