Innovation Sunnybrook Magazine - Spring 2016

Advance in treating artery pain

Andrew Dueck

Dr. Andrew Dueck (Photograph by Doug Nicholson)

The pain can come in waves of muscle cramping in the thigh and the upper calf, and sometimes there is discomfort in the feet at night or while sitting: Patients with peripheral artery disease, also known as hardening of the arteries that lead to the extremities, face not only an impaired quality of life, but also a higher risk for heart attack and stroke. While there are surgical treatment options that can improve the condition, there is often a need for a followup procedure if the artery becomes blocked again.

Sunnybrook is one of the first centres in Canada to offer a new therapy option that reduces the need for subsequent surgery. Dr. Andrew Dueck, division head of vascular surgery at Sunnybrook, says a new drug-coated balloon angioplasty restores blood flow and delivers a drug directly into the wall of the artery. The drug minimizes scar tissue formation, which can lead to blockage of the artery and a return of symptoms. For patients, this means a reduction in pain and discomfort, a lower risk of heart attack and stroke, and less chance of more surgery.

That’s reassuring news for the estimated 800,000 Canadians living with peripheral artery disease.