HACKENSACK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — One of the most common heart procedures done in this country is a called a coronary angioplasty.

A balloon opens up a heart artery and usually a stent is placed to keep it open.

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CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez reports that procedure is now being improved with technology borrowed from kidney stone blasters.

“In January, I got up to walk my dog and I got to the end of my driveway and I felt like a horse had kicked me in the chest,” Barbara Coella said.

That heart pain led Coella to have, like more than a million Americans a year, a couple of stents put in a heart artery, but…

“I was still having shortness of breath and I was still having, you know, like, difficulty breathing, even with chest pain,” she said.

It was even getting in the way of hosting her Italian restaurant, but her heart blockages were heavily calcified, too hard for more angioplasty.

That’s when her doctor told her of a just-approved procedure to open those hardened arteries.

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It is an ingenious adaptation of kidney lithotripsy or stone blaster technology that’s been around for decades.

Dr. Haroon Faraz, of Hackensack University Medical Center, still passes a thin wire through the hard, calcified blockage in the heart artery. Then a special balloon emits a series of shockwaves that gradually fracture the calcified plaque without damaging the artery.

“Which is changing your vessels from being hard to flexible. And once you have opened the blockage, if the vessel is flexible, it allows the stent to be nicely put in so that the stent can do the job that it is supposed to,” Faraz said.

Coella actually went home the same day of the procedure and within a week…

“I feel so amazing. You would never know that I had any heart symptoms, procedures at all. Nothing. I can race up and down the steps. I can almost do a marathon,” she said.

This technique, called IVL, could help as many as a third of angina patients with calcified plaque. It’s also been approved for several years for use in non-heart arteries with similar hard blockages.

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Patients do still need to have a stent put in. The IVL is what softens the artery enough to place those stents.

Dr. Max Gomez