New percutaneous approaches are expanding the options for treating patients with complex coronary artery disease — generally defined as multivessel blockages and complete or near-complete blockages. 

“As life expectancy has increased and more older patients are presenting with severe disease, we’re seeing the need for more complex interventions,” said Iyad K. Azzam, MD, interventional cardiologist and Medical College of Wisconsin faculty member. “The technology has improved so much that things that were once impossible to do percutaneously are now performed with great success.”

Leading-Edge Approaches for a Range of Coronary Conditions

Dr. Azzam is part of a team of interventionalists, cardiologists and cardiac surgeons in the Froedtert & MCW Complex and High-Risk Coronary Intervention Program (CHIP). Among a select few in the region, this program offers leading-edge interventional procedures to treat the following complex conditions:

  • Multivessel Coronary Artery Disease
  • Chronic total occlusion (CTO) — 100% blockages at least three months old
  • Patients who are not candidates for surgical bypass or who want to avoid surgery
  • Patients with highly calcified arteries
  • Patients with severe heart failure

A Cororonary Artery Disease Symptom That May Be Overlooked

Dr. Azzam advises community physicians to be especially alert for shortness of breath as a symptom.

“Shortness of breath — not necessarily chest pain — can be a sign of long-term blockages of the heart arteries,” he said. “Patients may define it in different ways, but when it doesn’t respond as expected to certain medications and therapies, we recommend investigating different cardiac conditions.”

New Choices for Treating Complex Coronary Artery Disease

The goal in treating high-risk patients is to improve their symptoms of chest pain, pressure or discomfort; shortness of breath; fatigue and exercise intolerance. They may already be receiving the maximum doses of medical therapies and still experiencing symptoms, which can also lead to depression and limitations in daily activities. Our CHIP Program can provide choices where none seemed to exist previously.

“It’s important to identify which patients can benefit from this through early referral by their physicians,” Dr. Azzam said. “It’s also important to know we use a heart team approach, which is highly recommended by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, where we develop a plan and provide various options, then ask the patient and family to make a decision.”

For Our Referring Physicians:

Academic Advantage of Interventional Cardiology Services

The Froedtert & MCW health network gives patients and their referring physicians a distinct advantage.

Contact our physician liaison team for more information about our CHIP Program or if you would be interested in meeting with any of the interventional cardiology team members.