Eisenhower Health announced Wednesday that it will become the first Southern California medical center to offer a recently approved treatment for people who suffer from emphysema.

Approved by the FDA in 2018 under the “Breakthrough Devices” status, the Zephyr Endobronchial Valve treatment is touted as a “minimally invasive procedure to help emphysema sufferers breathe easier without major surgery,” according to Eisenhower Health.

“Emphysema patients are often in poor physical condition, struggling with each breath despite medication therapy,” said Dr. Justin Thomas of Eisenhower Health. “Before the Zephyr Valves, the only options for relief were highly invasive treatments, including lung surgeries. Being able to offer this minimally invasive procedure has the potential to improve the quality of life for many emphysema sufferers in the Coachella Valley and beyond.”

Emphysema is a long-term, progressive disease of the lungs whose symptoms include shortness of breath, wheezing, or a chronic cough. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are the most common conditions that make up COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

During the “one-time, short procedure, on average, a physician places four tiny valves in the airways to block off the damage areas of the lungs so air no longer gets trapped there,” Rice said. “This allows the healthier parts of the lungs to expand and relieves the pressure on the diaphragm, which decreases shortness of breath and makes breathing easier.”

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