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

Heart Procedure Ascension
Posted at 1:10 PM, Dec 28, 2021
and last updated 2022-01-02 15:21:15-05

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 used to lead straight to the operating table.

Retirement has been good to Tim Lechtenberg and his wife, a retired nurse. The couple share 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, I have COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) lung issues and I'm always wondering if it's the heart that's causing a lot of the lung issues,” Tim said.

Tim stopped smoking 20 years ago, but at 70 years old, he has been to quite a few doctors in search of answers about his heart issues.

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

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,” said Lechenberg.

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

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

Ascension Providence in Rochester is one of only seven hospitals in the country with this new technology that measures blood flow in your tiny vessels.

“We put in a little wire give some medication and we do some measurement, measurement will tell us whether a person has microvessel disease or not,” said Dr. Nishit 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, but the CoroFlow technology revealed Tim had problems with the tiny vessels or microvessels in his heart which are too tiny for the naked eye to see and although 50-60% of patients have microcirculation problems,” said Choski.

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% 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 microvessels circulation problems are treated with medication, not surgery.

“After a month I'm starting to feel great. 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 lets run rather than walk so I'm feeling much better,” said Lechenberg.

“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 you may want to come to Ascension Providence in Rochester to undergo the CoroFlow technology it may just be the answer you've been searching for.