Tag Archives: Dr. Robert Leonardi

Finding Closure: New Heart Device Reduces Stroke Risk

Lexington Medical Center is the first hospital in South Carolina to use a brand new device proven to reduce the risk of stroke in a substantial number of patients.

The Amplatzer PFO Occluder device by St. Jude Medical is for patients who have a small hole in the heart called a patent foramen ovale (PFO). About 25 to 30 percent of Americans have a PFO.

Typically, it causes no health problems and does not require treatment. But in some cases, clots can form in the veins, use the PFO to get into the arteries, and cause a stroke.

Patients who have suffered a stroke because of a PFO have an increased risk of experiencing a second stroke. Physicians now use the PFO occluder to close the hole in the heart and reduce the risk of another stroke.

While doctors have been closing PFOs for years, it’s the first time there has been a device with specific emphasis on stroke patients.

Robert Leonardi, MD, FACC, FSCAI

“It’s the first FDA-approved device for stroke reduction,” said Robert Leonardi, MD, FACC, FSCAI of Lexington Cardiology, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice. “In fact, the stroke reduction rate is estimated to be 50 percent.”

Doctors insert the PFO occluder through a catheter in the femoral vein in the leg. They thread the device through the PFO in the top chambers of the heart, known as the left and right atria.

While doctors can pinpoint the cause of most strokes from risk factors including high blood pressure, narrowed blood vessels, or a blood clot caused by an abnormal heart rhythm, some patients have strokes with a less obvious cause. That’s when doctors investigate the possibility of a PFO, usually discovered through an ultrasound of the heart.


New Aortic Valve Procedure Answers Prayer

Thomas Caldwell has a heart for prayer. As pastor of Beacon Baptist Church in Lexington, he leads his congregation with faith. This fall, when doctors at Lexington Medial Center told him there was something wrong with his aortic valve and that it needed to be replaced, he began to pray.

The pastor shared his story with Dawndy Mercer Plank in this WIS-TV news story. Watch it below.


At age 81, Thomas decided he didn’t want to have open heart surgery. That was a big decision because not having his aortic valve fixed could shorten his life. But he soon learned he was a candidate for transcatheter aortic valve replacement, known as TAVR. The procedure used to be considered experimental and only for patients who were unable to have open heart surgery because of advanced age or other health problems. But right after Thomas’ appointment and his conversation with God, the procedure was approved for nearly all aortic valve patients. In fact, Thomas became the first patient to have TAVR at Lexington Medical Center under the newly expanded guidelines.

New Treatment for Pulmonary Embolism

Have you heard of pulmonary embolism (PE)? It’s a blockage in one of the pulmonary arteries in your lungs.

In most cases, PE is caused by blood clots that travel to the lungs from the legs or other parts of the body, which is known as deep vein thrombosis.
These clots contribute to 100,000 deaths per year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Lexington Medical Center now offers a new treatment option for patients suffering from PE — the EKOS EkoSonic® Endovascular System.

With this system, interventional cardiologists can deliver lower doses of thrombolytic, or clot-busting, medicines directly into the clots. Ultrasound pulses in the system are used to fragment the clot, helping the clot-busting drug to more effectively “melt” it away.

Massive PE diagnosed by computed tomography

Massive PE diagnosed by computed tomography

EKOS catheter inserted through the clot

EKOS catheter inserted through the clot

“While systemic thrombolysis relies on blood flow, which is very limited in completely blocked vessels, to deliver a larger dose of thrombolytic drug to the intact surface of the clot, catheter-directed thrombolysis uses catheters placed directly through the clots to deliver smaller doses of thrombolytic drug right into the middle of the clots,” said Robert Leonardi, MD, FACC, FSCAI, at Lexington Cardiology.

Dr. Leonardi talked about the procedure on WLTX recently.

“Catheter-directed thrombolysis helps patients recover from life-threatening PE more quickly and more completely by providing most or all of the benefit of full-dose, systemic thrombolysis with substantially less bleeding risk,” said Dr. Leonardi.

LMC performed its first catheter-directed thrombolysis for PE last year.

Risk Factors for Pulmonary Embolism
Even though anyone can develop blood clots and pulmonary embolism, certain factors increase your risk.

•Medical history
•Heart disease
•Certain cancers
•Prolonged immobility, such as bed rest and sitting during travel
•Supplemental estrogen, such as birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy