20 Things You Didn’t Know about ShockWave Medical

Shockwave Medical

Shockwave Medical Inc. has been making significant changes. The company has certainly evolved since it began, but the most significant changes they’ve made have to do with the health of people everywhere who suffer from calcified arteries. Patients with blocked veins all over the world have new hope. From heart patients to people with less deadly ailments, calcification in the circulatory system has always been painful, dangerous, and challenging to treat.

With their proprietary Intravascular Lithotripsy (IVL) technology, Shockwave Medical isn’t just a name on a stock chart. They’ve revolutionized and updated the way doctors can choose to handle breaking down deposits that harden and can lead to vascular problems and even death. It wasn’t very long ago that people had no way to treat calcification in the blood delivery system at all. As recently as last year, some medical sites still said there was no way to treat hardened arteries, but a year can make a huge difference.

1. Kidney Treatment

We don’t call people pioneers in new fields, or visionary inventors very often. In fact, we’re not sure we ever have. That’s because plenty of people are amazing, but not many are out there inventing technology to save human lives. What does that have to do with “Kidney Treatment?” Everything. Back in 2009, three very unique people, an engineer, a cardiologist, and a marketer decided to put their heads together and change the world for the better.

It all began with a kidney stone treatment. According to their website, these three unique people could see a future where lithotripsy, a kidney stone treatment that has been around for years. The ability to break up crystals that form in the kidneys has saved a lot of people severe pain and damage to their urinary system. The founders of ShockWave looked at this concept and were confident it could be adapted to help people in other ways and break up other deposits. However, they had a long road ahead before they could prove it and put it into action.

2. Breaking Up Deposits

Undilatable lesions is a complicated term for what are essentially areas in the veins and arteries that have hardened because of deposits on them. People end up with this problem as a result of poor health and a bad diet. Unfortunately, if left untreated, this can lead to blood flow blockages. Without blood, the body can die. Obviously, it’s less problematic to lose blood to a toe than it is when blood doesn’t flow properly in your heart. Regardless, it’s still a serious problem anywhere. The only part of the body that doesn’t need blood is the cornea of your eyes because it gets oxygen directly from the air around it. If a machine could go into the vascular system and help destroy those blockages by breaking them down to remove them, blood would flow again. This can save limbs and even lives. However, back in 2009, this was still just a theory.

3. Can You Hear Me Now

How exactly can a machine break up something like a kidney stone or blocked artery? Well, the answer isn’t exactly simple, but the gist of it is that you can use shock waves. Hence the name of the company. Using sound-based technology, they proposed to vibrate the deposits. Waves fracture them and thus break pieces off so that they could be removed or reabsorbed in the body instead of blocking necessary blood flow.

The shock waves are created with sound. These little micro pulses of noise create waves that shake things up literally. If you’ve ever put your hand on a bass speaker, then you’ve felt the power of vibrating sound. Naturally, the type of sound waves that get used inside a body are smaller than those used to make a rock concert reach thousands of fans, but the concept is similar. Instead of vibrating eardrums, ShockWave vibrates problematic hard buildup inside a body.

4. Minimum and Maximum

Taking a machine that can target problem areas inside a body isn’t easy, but it’s very effective. With their patented process, the geniuses at ShockWave can find and treat just the worrisome areas. The treatment is extremely functional. Moreover, this targeted system does less damage than stents and other options. There’s less damage to tissues in the area, and that means fracturing intimal and medial calcium at a minimal cost for hospitals and patients. It also means there’s less to heal and less need for additional procedures. Getting more for less is always good, but when it comes to rising healthcare costs, it’s awe-inspiring.

5. National and International

Because the medical approvals system is different in America than other parts of the world, ShockWave Medical Inc. has separate portals of the company website for national and foreign customers. They have to go through rigorous approvals everywhere their technology might be used. This also means they may have different permissions in different paces.

6. Safer than Traditional Methods

Treating any sot of calcium deposits can be extremely tricky for a number of reasons. First, calcium treatments make everything harder. Secondly, calcium deposits make other issues more difficult to treat. Third, patients of traditional methods are at a higher risk of complications. Finally, using the conventional tools is challenging to master.

7. More Than Ever

Longer global lifespan means more cardiovascular calcium. Because this is a problem for blood flow, it likely means more expensive heart surgeries throughout the world. This cutting edge company is helping to curb that problem with their ingenious therapies. Aging tissues are also more delicate and can take longer to heal. Having a minimally damaging technology available means less downtime for healing and fewer complications for elderly patients.

8. Calcium Kills

“Calcium Increases Case Complexity & Decreases Treatment Effectiveness.”

When we say ShockWave is saving lives, it’s not a grandiose statement. Calcium deposits in veins an arteries can block blood flow to the heart or other areas. People who can’t use the blood they have die as a result all the time. Fortunately, once it’s approved everywhere, ShockWave’s IVL therapy can help change all that.

9. No More Balloons

Current technology uses ‘balloons’ to help open up problem veins and arteries. The balloons come in different varieties like scoring and cutting balloons and a high-pressure variety. While these balloons have undoubtedly saved lives, they can dilate where there’s a calcium blockage.

10. More Cost-Effective

New medical equipment is never cheap. ShockWave Medical is a business, and though they can’t give their product away and still be able to build it, they have helped cut costs. The failure rate of IVL technology is lower for one thing. That means less additional treatments which lead to doctors being more available and able to treat more people without working longer. Cutting extra treatment fees and staff-hours save money for hospitals and patients in more than one way.

11. Kieth D. Dawkins M.D.

Doctor Kieth Dawkins is a new addition to the ShockWave team this year, but those in the medical field may know his name already. He brings a vast amount of experience to his new position as the Chief Medical Officer. Previously he was Global Chief Medical Officer and Executive Vice President to Boston Scientific Corporation and a member of the Executive Committee from 2012 to 2017.

12. Doug Godshall

Doug Godshall has been President & CEO of ShockWave since 2017. He’s helped to lead the company to global success and commercialization. Letting people around the world know that there’s a better way to treat calcified vascular issues is his way of helping make the world a better place. It must be deeply satisfying to run a company that is changing so many lives.

13. Not Just the Heart

Heart problems are one way this technology is changing lives, but there’s more to Shock Wave’s IVL technology than just treating hearts. Because calcification can happen all over their machine can be used anywhere in the body where veins and arteries are in danger from calcium deposits. Better yet, it can be used safely all over the body.

14. FDA Approval

The ShockWave IVL technology isn’t approved for use in the USA just yet, but we’re sure they will be. On September third they received the official FDA Breakthrough Device Designation and are now the subject of an Investigational Device Exemption (IDE) study called DISRUPT CAD III. That means they can test their device for approval here in the USA.

15. Crazy Stock Market Values

This unique company has made more than one kind of news lately. Back in April, their stock values jumped 30% and made serious waves in the financial markets. It’s not common for a company to see such a drastic rise in their value in such a short time, though it can and obviously does happen. People are starting to get savvy to ShockWave’s brilliance. Moreover, the company only became publicly traded in March. An initial boom like that is an excellent sign for the future of ShockWave Medical Inc.

16. What Goes Up

Unfortunately, the initial boom in their stock value notwithstanding, by September 13th things had gone back down by fifty percent. Market volatility is not uncommon, especially for brand new companies. Doubtless, some investors thought they’d see the profits from an approved technology almost immediately, and that’s simply not how medical safety testing works. Of course, most people know very little about the process for FDA approvals. We think anyone who sold may soon regret letting go of those stocks given the revolutionary nature of their breakthroughs.

17. Daniel Hawkins, John Adams, and Todd Brinton

These three tenacious and men, Daniel Hawkins, John Adams, and Todd Brinton, created the ShockWave Medical company with their hard work and talent. When they started working together, Daniel, John, and Todd saw one fundamental problem with the technologies that existed at the time to handle calcification in vessel walls. Balloons could over-expand and damage the delicate tissues, or be stopped by the calcium and fail to do their job. While these balloons certainly helped save lives, they weren’t the best method. So these pioneers set out to make a better way to help people.

18. Abiomed Invested Millions

Before everyone else could see the future like Daniel, John, and Todd, a company called Abiomed, knew what they were looking at. In 2018 the company invested a massive fifteen million dollars to help further develop the new IVL technology.  The two companies began working together in the US and Germany to help educate and train medical professionals in their new machine. After all, a device is only as good as the people operating it, and in order to treat people in a new way, the users have to learn how it works.

19. Investors Didn’t Think They’d Make It Work

When ShockWave started looking for investors, things were very different. Many of those they approached took a pass. Technologies that had been attempted in the past had often been unsuccessful. That led to a lack of faith in the ideas they were presenting even though the concept was technically sound and frankly revolutionary.

20. The Future

This company is giving hope and longer life to anyone with calcified arteries. People will quite literally live longer and healthier lives as a result of what ShockWave is doing. Hospitals in the future will have the ability to help people who were once considered incurable by zapping calcified arteries. Incredibly, they’ve found a way to destroy a serious medical problem with sound waves. Lots of companies do good work, but far fewer are changing an entire industry the way ShockWave has chosen to do.

Final Thoughts

ShockWave Medical Inc. deserves more than an article. We’d give these folks a medal if we could. Any company that is changing the future of heart health for the better is worth knowing more about. We appreciate their excellent work and outstanding innovation. Saving lives is no small thing. We can’t express our gratitude enough. Knowing there’s a company out there with the sort of brilliance, drive, and insight to create their own technology to help people with vascular blockages brings new hope. Longer life isn’t something most companies can give you, but Shockwave Medical is changing people’s hearts and life expectancy.

We look forward to seeing their innovations on many more products in the future.


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