Shock Waves Can Save Hearts

Thursday, December 21st, 2006

Shock Waves Can Save Hearts:

Extracorporeal cardiac shock wave therapy sounds like something Capt. Picard might need after a run-in with the Borg. But it’s actually a new, real-life way to treat end-stage heart disease.
A team of Japanese researchers found that blasting the heart with shock waves helps patients grow new blood vessels and increase blood flow.
Shimokawa and his colleagues aimed low-energy pressure waves at the chests of nine patients with end-stage coronary artery disease. During a typical session they hit 20 to 40 different areas of the heart with 200 pulses each. Blood flow increased and symptoms were alleviated in all patients, suggesting the growth of new blood vessels.

The researchers used a shock wave generator made especially for the heart. Using its fine adjustments, they could focus waves on a 2-square-millimeter area, and aim them virtually anywhere.

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