Park Ridge Restaurant Owner and Realtor Is Back on the Job After Heart Disease Treatment

Barbara Colella

November 10, 2021

For several months, Barbara Colella, from Park Ridge, New Jersey, hadn’t been feeling well. “I own a restaurant and I sell real estate, so I’m always on the go,” she says. “But I was constantly huffing and puffing and never felt like I could do all that I wanted to do.”

By the end of January, things took a turn for the worse. “I felt like a horse kicked me in the chest,” she says.

Barbara knew something was very wrong, so she called an ambulance and went directly to Hackensack University Medical Center. Tests revealed that two of her arteries—essentially the main lifeline of the heart—were 99.9-percent blocked. There also was calcification in another artery.

“Usually with multiple heart blockages, the treatment of choice is open heart surgery,” says Haroon Faraz, M.D., interventional cardiologist at Hackensack. But Barbara had several comorbidities, and the multidisciplinary team involving cardiothoracic surgeons and interventional cardiologists came to the consensus that open heart surgery would be a prohibitive risk.

“The decision was made to fix the blockages in the two main arteries, then let her body rest and bring her back to tackle the third,” says Dr. Faraz. He performed a high-risk angioplasty with a mechanical circulatory support device to fix the left main bifurcation disease and inserted stents on the two front blockages including the left main, left anterior descending and left circumflex arteries.

Candidate for a New Option

While Barbara recuperated from the first procedure, the FDA approved Intravascular Lithotripsy (IVL). IVL uses sonic pressure waves, also known as shockwaves, which creates a series of micro-fractures to break up built-up calcium without affecting the healthy vessel. “We were approached by Shockwave Inc. to allow us to be among the first few sites for using this technology,” says Dr. Faraz.

The minimally invasive procedure, which is done under local anesthesia, is done in conjunction with angioplasty and stenting.

First, the doctor introduces the catheter to the heart through a small incision in the patient’s arm or leg.

Then, IVL emits pressure waves to break up the calcium deposits.

Dr. Faraz felt Barbara was a great candidate for IVL and asked her if she was interested. “He said I’d be one of the first in the state of New Jersey to get it, and the very first person in Hackensack to get it,” she says.

Barbara felt uneasy at first. “I think anybody would feel some nerves, knowing they were getting a brand-new procedure,” she says. She thought long and hard, and texted Dr. Faraz whenever a question popped into her head. “He answered every one of my texts,” she says.

She waffled back and forth about whether to go through with this new technique, weighed the pros and cons, and finally decided to proceed. “I figured if it helps other people and helps me avoid open heart surgery, the answer had to be yes.”

A few weeks later, Barbara had the procedure and was back home the same night. For the first time in months, she had no shortness of breath. Barbara is thrilled that doctors were able to use this new technology on her. She’s back to her normal hectic schedule and feels like her old self again. Actually, maybe better. “Now I feel like I could run a marathon!”

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The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.

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