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Health, Science & Tech

Allegheny Health Network Now Offers Drug to Prevent Re-Clogging of Arteries

The Allegheny Health Network is the first health system in the Pittsburgh region to offer a new medication called Lutonix to help those suffering from peripheral arterial disease (PAD).

Between 8 and 12 million people in the U.S. are affected by PAD - the hardening of the arteries from cholesterol and plaque buildup. It can obstruct blood flow, which could result in amputation or death if untreated.

Allegheny General Hospital cardiologist Dr. Gus Eles said while the original surgery to treat PAD might be successful, it can result in scar tissue once again hardening the arteries.

“The problem for us after we open a clogged artery is in a certain percentage of people re-narrow the artery,” Eles said. “And we’ve always been looking, and a lot of research has been done into finding ways to prevent the artery from re-narrowing.”

Lutonix uses an angioplasty balloon coated with Paclitaxel, a cell-growth inhibitor.

“The Lutonix balloon is a newly FDA approved balloon catheter device with is coated with a drug that during the process of opening the artery, the drug is impregnated into the artery and it helps to reduce the chance of it re-narrowing at a future date,” Eles said.

Eles said Lutonix helps slow down the healing process, preventing re-clogging.

He said the medication aims to prevent patients from undergoing open heart surgery, which carries higher risks and longer recuperation periods.

“So typically with this technology, we can open up the artery in the leg (and) send the patient home the following day with a Band-Aid as opposed to open surgical incisions,” Eles said.