For years, Joseph Mashtaler spent all his spare time exploring the outdoors near his home in Ontario, Canada.
Until two years ago when heart disease kept him virtually housebound.
"Even my children who are adults said, 'dad, what happened? you were invincible.' that's what hit me. i just want to be normal," Joseph Mashtaler, cancer patient, told Ivanhoe.
The artery leading to Joseph's heart was totally blocked. Doctors tried a traditional approach to reopen the artery, but the plaque that had built up inside his arteries was too dense for angioplasty to work. Doctor Bradley Strauss, M.D., at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto pioneered a new treatment that would give patients with total blockage another option.
"I've been working on a type of chemical, Drano, to soften the collagen inside the plaque, so it's easier to cross with our conventional guide wires and equipment," Bradley Strauss, M.D., chief of the Schulich Heart Centre at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre said.
Doctors inject the enzyme into the blockage and the drug softens the plaque overnight.
"We'll bring the patient back the next day and will just use a conventional approach to doing angioplasty," Dr. Strauss said.
Strauss says reopening the artery this way, means some patients may not have to undergo bypass surgery at all. For Joseph, that means a faster recovery -- reason enough to celebrate.
Doctor Strauss was able to successfully perform angioplasty on 12 of 15 patients who were injected with the enzyme. All of the patients in the trial had a previous failed attempt at opening the occlusion. The researcher is about to begin a large clinical trial of the enzyme in Canada and the U.S.
If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marsha Hitchcock at email@example.com