ANAHEIM, CALIF. -- A laser that pierces new blood-carrying channels into ailing heart muscle is an effective new therapy for coronary artery disease patients who have exhausted all other conventional forms of treatment, according to the results of a recently completed multi-center clinical trial.
A study of 198 patients, randomized to either the new laser therapy or continued treatment with heart medicines, found that 71 percent of the patients treated with the laser showed significant decrease in chest pain (angina), compared to none of those receiving medical therapy.
The heart laser system, which uses a carbon dioxide laser, was developed by PLC Medical Systems Inc., Milford, Mass.
Results of the 12-center, Phase III clinical trial were prepared for presentation Tuesday (March 18) by Duke cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. James E. Lowe at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology.
The procedure, known as transmyocardial revascularization (TMR), opens new passageways in heart muscle that is still alive, but because of inadequate supply of blood, is not functioning properly.
"TMR is a promising therapy for a group of patients who have exhausted all other revascularization therapies," Lowe said. "Most patients saw a significant decrease in their angina scores after the procedure, and it appears that the benefit lasts over time. A six-month follow-up also demonstrated that patients treated with TMR displayed marked increase in blood flow to the heart.
"These patients typically have had multiple hospital admissions; they can't work or exercise and physical exertion of any kind causes crushing chest pain," Lowe said. "They are a tragic and unhappy group of patients because they are so incapacitated and in the past we could do very little for them."
Angina occurs when the heart's demand for oxygen-rich blood is not met
by the coronary arteries, which are usually clogge
Contact: Richard Merritt